The opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline comes from those who hope to slow or stop the development of tar sands in Canada. They believe that this oil production is and will contribute to climate change. One should always be careful for what one wishes. The environmental analysis released Jan. 31, 2011, by the State Department said that “approval or denial of any one crude-oil transport project, including the proposed project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands.”
Canada is not about to stop the development. The oil is moving by train tanker car and barge. Barge transport has increased from .45 million barrels in 2010 to 3.8 million barrels in November 2013. Exon Mobile is building a rail-loading facility in Alberta to “enable efficient, cost effective transportation of heavy crude.” The tar sands oil will be developed and moved. An increase in rail transport to existing pipelines will increase the GHC (carbon dioxide) emissions 39 percent over transporting through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
In addition to the air pollution from rail transportation there is also noise pollution, more frequent spills and a larger leakage over time from the increased freight.
The Keystone XL pipeline is the preferred route as refineries that process heavy Venezuelan crude already exist on the Gulf. If Keystone fails, Canada has plans to build a pipeline to the west coast for transport to China. Tar sands oil will continue to come to the U.S. by rail and barge.
The unintended result from stopping the Keystone XL pipeline is increased emissions rather than lowered ones. Americans should expect that this oil will be moved by the safest, least polluting and cheapest means possible.
Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. State Department Environmental Impact Report.