Posted by A Neighbor, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm
The suggestion that the XL pipeline will reduce gasoline prices in the US in November, or ever, in ludicrous. Obama and congress did the right thing by refusing to allow the Canadians to build this line through our heartland for a great number of reasons.
First, the product is not for US consumption. That line, owned by TransCanada, was for transporting diluted bitumen, not crude oil, to the Gulf for refining into diesel for export, mostly to China. Bitumen is nothing like light sweet crude, the oil in reserves in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, etc. The refined bitumen was never intended for US consumption.
Second, bitumen is not oil, it is a tar and is a viscous, sticky substance that has been used for centuries as an adhesive and building material, but not as oil. To be burned like oil it first needs to be mixed with lighter hydrocarbons. The process of transforming bitumen into liquid fuel requires enormous amounts of water and energy for steam injection and refining, a process which generates two to four times the amount of greenhouse gases per barrel of final product as the "production" of conventional oil.
Third, vast amounts of water are needed to separate the bitumen from sand, silt, and clay. It takes three barrels of water to extract each single barrel of oil. At this rate, tar sands operations use roughly 400 million gallons of water a day. Ninety percent of this polluted water is dumped into large tailing ponds. These ponds are full of toxic sludge, including cyanide and ammonia, which has worked its way into neighboring clean water supplies.
Fourth, ground water contamination is highly likely. The proposed route will carry the tar sands through the Ogalalla Aquifer, the groundwater resource accessed by eight US states and supplying drinking water to over 2 million Americans and irrigation water for millions of acres of farmland, supporting $20 billion in agriculture. It crosses major rivers, including the Missouri River, Yellowstone, and Red Rivers. A spill would be an environmental disaster of unimaginable proportions.
Fifth, spills happen. TransCanada stated the pipe will leak/spill upwards of a million gallon every 7 years, on average. That is an unacceptable level of risk.
Sixth, the notion that it will create jobs is unfounded. House Speaker John Boehner said it would result in 20,000 jobs, and Jon Huntsman prophesied 100,000. But these claims are greatly exaggerated. The federal government estimates that it would create 6,000 to 6,500 temporary construction jobs at best, for two years.
Seventh, American oil companies are not drilling up to their best efficiency levels at this time. In fact, they are currently sitting on thousands of permits not in production. We have passed the era of peak oil and is one reason why we are now drilling for oil 5 miles beneath the surface of the ocean, which is what led to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
I am not willing to let the Canadian government and oil profiteers contaminate my country so they can pursue the extraction of oil from the Alberta tar sands resources.