Back in March, the Keystone XL pipeline's approval looked practically assured. Construction of the 1,179-mile leviathan, connecting Alberta's tar sand mines with Texas Gulf Coast refiners, was already well underway in Texas. The State Department said Canadian tar sands production would proceed apace, with or without the pipeline. By rail or by barge, the stuff would get to market, the draft environmental report concluded, so why not by pipeline? Why not to the Gulf?
Well, there's the lunar landscape tar sands mining has created in Alberta's boreal forests. There's 81 percent more greenhouse gas created by tar sands on a well-to-tank basis than by conventional crude. Theres the grassroots opposition from landowners who don't want their land seized for an oil pipeline.
And then there are the spills: 819,000 gallons of diluted bitumen (lightly processed tar sands) ruptured from a pipeline in Michigan in 2010; 5,000 barrels of diluted bitumen flowing through a neighborhood in Mayflower, Arkansas, from an ExxonMobil line in March.
In other words, there is no shortage of reasons to deny the project, and the industry keeps supplying the opposition with new ones.More »