• Nov 8, 2011


This weekend brought a large turnout of protestors against the Keystone XL pipeline. An crowd estimated at between 10,000 and 12,000 circled the White House, railing against the pipeline that would bring oil from Canadian tar sands to the Gulf Coast.

Opponents of the project are concerned both about the environmental damage done by extracting oil from the tar sands and about the potential for spills from the nation-crossing, 1,700-mile pipeline. Recent pipeline failures that dumped oil into the Yellowstone River in Montana and a spill last summer in which a ruptured pipeline gushed an estimate 820,000 gallons into Michigan's Kalamazoo River have only increased worries that Keystone may lead to an environmental disaster.

Even if the pipeline never leaks, there are additional concerns over the significant amount of processing it takes to free oil from bituminous (tar) sands. The oil trapped in these sands is generally removed by strip mining the sands and heating the material to release the oil, or by injecting steam into the reservoir rock. The amount of energy consumed is many times higher than that of conventional oil extraction and the land area affected is much greater. Even when separated, the oil extracted is heavy oil that requires extensive processing.

Those favoring the Keystone XL pipeline have noted that it would provide access to oil from a source that's consistently friendly and allied with the United States. Construction of the pipeline is expected to produce between 6,000 and 20,000 jobs, some of which would persist after construction is complete.

Questions have been raised about the official environmental impact statement that gave a go-ahead to the project, particularly the way in which companies involved in the project were allowed to influence the choice of contractors selected for the review. The inspector general of the State Department has called for an investigation into the process, and some legislators have urged President Obama to wait for the outcome of this review before allowing the project to move ahead. The people gathered around the White House this weekend made it clear where they stand.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 145 Comments
      BipDBo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Despite all of the advances, cafe standards, biofuel, etc., we will still be using oil for a while. We might as well get it from local sources like Canada and ANWR rather than buying t from hostile nations and shipping it here in floating tin cans.
        Ryan
        • 1 Day Ago
        @BipDBo
        Or we can work together and develop alternatives to the oil we import and slow down the amount of new drilling that is happening.
          Noz
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Ryan
          One lunatic's rant to another lunatic would seem rational now wouldn't it.
          PR
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Ryan
          BipDBo- The MAJORITY are protesting BOTH shipping in oil from the Middle East AND oil drilling that is destroys out environment. You are in the minority.
          BipDBo
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Ryan
          We're doing just that, but the reality is that we will be using oil for a long time. We're not going to replace all of our fossil fuel burning furnaces and automobiles with ones that run off of good intentions and fairy farts any time soon. The loud minority protests the drilling of small areas in anwr while failing to protest oil shipped from the middle east. The result is neglecting solutions with problems by continuing to use a solution that is far more problematic. It's idotic, radical idealism that refuses to accept reality. The best plan would be to continue searching for alternatives to fossil fuels and use the wisest options for fossil fuels in the meantime.
          noelmwood
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Ryan
          PR And they get to the protests driving in their CARS! Snerk.
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Ryan
          Hear, hear, Dip. A rational post.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 1 Day Ago
        @BipDBo
        It's their choice to ruin their country's water supplies i guess. The problem is when this crap leaks into ours, which it already has... and will continue to do so.
        • 1 Day Ago
        @BipDBo
        The US produces enough oil where -between CAFE, EVs and biofuel - we could be running off domestic supply only by 2040. Does the return on investment of the Keystone XL pipeline and all the tar sands investments go positive before 2040, or will the rush to sustainable vehicles make the entire project a net money loser?
          • 1 Day Ago
          Suncor is VERY happy with their investment, as are all the US pipeling builders and suppliers. The investment is already in the black.
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Day Ago
      It's good to see young people participating in the civic process. (although remembering my student days, it was more of a social event) . To hermanjck , SNP, Spec and the other realists who try to bring some practical reality to this debate like, you will always be shouted down by ideologues with closed minds and dogmatic viewpoints whose arguments are emotional, but impractical and distorted. You can't convince the 'true believers', but I admire your efforts. The relatively small, and mostly young, crowd in Washington shows how little support there is for this latest protest target. Oil is intricately interwoven into the US, and world economy. Oil powers over 6 billion engines world-wide. Stentorian ideologues like Fordinsight, Noz and the odious DF, have no idea of these complexities, and just shout loud irrational catch phrases, designed to sound nice and morally correct. In fact, such remarks are gibberish, and are the hallmarks of simpletons dreaming of a demagogue to believe in and follow blindly. Everyone wants a cleaner environment, a better standard of living, etc...But how, and at what price? 2WM, believes in a mass adoption of cycling. Sounds great, but do you really believe that bicycles can replace ambulances, Fire engines, be ridden by the elderly, infirm etc. The production and maintenance of the emergency services, roads and other infrastructure, is all intertwined. You can't just pull bricks out here and there! As oil depletion bites deeper, the Oil Industry will be forced to more desperate measures to bridge the gap between viable alternatives and the end of the age of oil. The Continental pipeline is just one of those unpleasant, but necessary compromises. It will be built! The truth is, currently there is no viable replacement for oil! Nor is the left interested in resolving even simple issues of pollution. Condemning Oil companies for polluting the world with oil for motor vehicles, yet the pollution from single large container vessel can equal 50 million cars! Where are the demonstrators at the docks? Where is the indignation from Noz, Fordinsight, PR, 2WM (cyclists are the most vulnerable to airborne carcinogens) . The environmental/ left, (as opposed to real environmentalists) is a faith based movement, good v evil, its adherent's are intolerant, irrational Utopians, cheery picking science to support untenable theories. The pipeline will be built, doomsday will not occur, and the world will move on to develop better technologies to provide energy. But, it will be achieved by the rational, and practical, not the rabble rouser's of the left, whose single accomplishment is to sanctimoniously point out the problem, but offer no viable solutions.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Marco Polo
        While i'm at it i never said replace all vehicles with electric bikes, bro. They don't work for everyone. I never said they do. Having to breathe gases from cars is no reason not to bike ride. For everyone on a bike, there is one less car polluting. You can also put a face mask on and not pedal. My dream is not idealistic. 90% of my miles are on 2 wheels now that i live in Colorado. I've saved over a thousand dollars on gasoline and had fun doing it because i can get from point A to point B faster than a car in city traffic. My investment in an electric bicycle and solar panels paid for themselves in a year. Each additional year of operation is pollution free, and financially free transport. If you're interested in trying one, i'm in Colorado Springs. Come on over. You'll get it once you ride one.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Marco Polo
        And don't worry, i won't tell your friends in the oil industry about this conversation.
        EZEE
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Marco Polo
        'Outrage' is selective. Tea Party protestors are 'crazy' and are also 'terrorists.' Occupy people, who throw urine and feces, burn down buildings, destroy Whole Foods (god why?), are patroits exercising their civic duties. Bill Clinton vs. Hermain Cain Business Jets vs. Business Trains (same tax depreciation advantages). Microsoft was evil until they started paying off people - donations to the United Nations...Bill and Melida Gates Foundation...magically, the lawsuits dropped. The Chamber of Commerce supported Republicans, now they are as evil as insurance, the pharmacueticals, the sugar industry, Haliburton, etc. I pointed out once where the Cubans are drilling (through a Spanish company) 60 miles closer to American shores than American oil companies are allowed to - and the anger that I would point that out surprised me, and, the excuses that came with the anger. "It's there water!" They said. Greens actually DEFENDED off-shore oil drilling! I figured there woudl be half hearted attacks, or, maybe, "oh well, the USA is worse!" (the hypocrite argumnet) - however, I never dreamed there would be a defense of it. So the container vessels...they just haven't been declared evil yet. And oddly, with their huge size and large surface area, I would think there could be LOTS done to fix them - cover the entire surface of a tanker with solar panels for goodness sake. I see you listed 2WM in there - he usually isn't in the same league as the others, is he? Although yea - sometimes when I am on my TEN MILE BIKERIDES, maintaining my 8.5% body fat, I think the same thing....
        John R
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Define "viable." There are perfectly good alternatives to oil for every thing I can think of. The problem is that in many cases they're more cost more money or require a larger initial investment. Many corporations care only about their bottom line, keeping the shareholders wealthy - so they are therefore unwilling to do something that may increase their costs of doing business. And many individuals are afraid to try something unfamiliar to them. I admit you're probably right that the pipeline will be built, because there's just too much vested interest in it from multi-billion-dollar corporations who have powerful lobbies within our government and can spend the money to influence the population.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Day Ago
          @John R
          @John R "Define Viable, Define "viable." There are perfectly good alternatives to oil for every thing I can think of" No, sadly, there are not "perfectly good alternatives", ! It's fine to wish there were, I wish there were, hell, the Oil companies themselves are spending tens of billions researching alternatives. Aircraft run on Aviation fuel, there is no 'alternative' that's one example! Just ranting that it's all a conspiracy by,...........(your choice) won't change the fact that right now, today we have a problem. Some immature technologies, that one day may develop into a viable alternative, do not provide a solution to todays problems. No one said to stop developing alternatives, but we must maintain an economy that can afford to fund such R&D.
          PR
          • 1 Day Ago
          @John R
          Marco Virgin airlines is running jets on biofuel. You can read about it on this cool website I've heard of that talks about green issues. Maybe you've heard of it: http://green.autoblog.com/2008/02/24/virgin-atlantic-completes-first-airline-biofuel-flight-from-lond/ Yes, there are alternatives.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Thank god for marco polo putting us down to reality. We really should stop dreaming of a better world.
        sirvixisvexed
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Marco Polo
        I agree, great post!
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Day Ago
          @sirvixisvexed
          @thank you
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Day Ago
          @sirvixisvexed
          @PR There are always alternatives. But, are there viable alternatives? As usual you cheery pick unrealistic experimental information as if were existing fact! Virgin are not flying aircraft on biofuel! Virgin flew one aircraft, using boifuel to power one engine, once! The cost of the fuel in that one engine was 14x the cost of Avgas and took an enormous amount of agricultural resources to produce. Far too excessive to ever be practical. The US Air-force has an on going BioFuel program as does the PLA. The Virent process developed by Virent/Shell/Honda is a better example of bio-fuel use, but as always with biofuel, feedstock is the problem. How is pretending, that solutions are ready today, when they are patently not, helpful?
      Ford Future
      • 1 Day Ago
      New Study, on Climate Change, Fox News Only Fools Conservatives. Researchers have combined an analysis of cable news coverage, which shows that Fox presents a view of climate change that's inconsistent with reality, and a survey of viewers, which shows that seeing this misinformation had an effect—but only within Fox's core audience. http://hij.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/10/13/1940161211425410
        EZEE
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Ford Future
        Open minded Ford strikes again. Hate much?
          Ford Future
          • 1 Day Ago
          @EZEE
          I'm making a public service announcement here. If you lived in the PA, NJ or New Your area you'd know it's Republican districts who are being inflicted with cancer soap in the air and water, from tracking. It's Limbaugh and Bech listeners who are being shafted with overpriced gold coins. And it's Texas land owners, ranchers and farmers who are bearing the burden of Republican climate denial policy. They talk about private property rights, but frackers are bribing/lobbying politicians to take those private property rights away from land owners, poisoning their cattle, out in the west. I too believed in the rhetoric, then I started looking things up.
        Ford Future
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Ford Future
        And why is that important? Because the 1/10 of the 1% is buying up your Water Rights, and land, preparing for climate change. And the conservatives will be the ones taking an Economic BEATING. When you Register and Vote Republican you send up a flag telling "them" where you are and who they can screw.
      Nick
      • 1 Day Ago
      FYi the total surface of Mordor (tar sands) equals a MILE WIDE strip of destruction stretching from the West to East Coast. If you now add mountain top removal here in the U.S., the strip is nearly 2 MILES WIDE.
        EZEE
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Nick
        Why Nick, you can't just walk into Mordor! :D
      PR
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is Proof #1 of Peak Oil becoming reality. To those who say oil is still plentiful, and we aren't entering into a real crisis, what justifies going to such extremes to extract oil? The only way for this to make sense is to admit that there aren't enough cheap sources of oil left for this project to make economic sense.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 1 Day Ago
        @PR
        YUP~!! Oil sands / shale incur *massive* energy expenditures to turn rocks and mud into gasoline. It's almost as if we're turning coal into oil really. If this is not a sign of peak oil, then i do not know what is. Detractors will always point to ANWR. But that would supply 1% of our energy needs for a 1, maybe 2 decades while destroying a wildlife refuge. get...off...oil...
        • 1 Day Ago
        @PR
        It DOES make economic sense. Suncor is a successful, profitable producer and improves their processes constantly. They sell this oil at a very competitive price, and the large, complex US refineries are ready now to accept and process it at a profitable spread on current RBOB, Diesel, and ethylene values. Are we at so-called "Peak Oil"? Perhaps --- it's hard to tell with discoveries occurring at the rate they are. Prices certainly don't reflect it. But technologies for petroleum usage get better every day, and some analysts are now seeing a global DEMAND peak happening within a decade or so.
        samagon0
        • 1 Day Ago
        @PR
        we have reached peak of cheap sources, that was done back in the 70s when the USA hit peak. ever since then the monetary price has steadily gone up, but the other prices went up immediately. the price continues to rise as we continue to use, but we aren't out by a longshot.
        EZEE
        • 1 Day Ago
        @PR
        That, is a great point.
        Spec
        • 1 Day Ago
        @PR
        Indeed. They struck oil 70 feet underground in Pennsylvania back in the 1800s. The ill-fated Macondo well was under a mile of water and another 2 miles of sediment/rock. We wouldn't be drilling in such difficult places if we had access to easier oil. The tar sands are oil-stained dirt. We are washing oil off of dirt so we can power our cars. That is why oil is near $100/barrel. And it will never again be in the $20s. And the situation will get progressively worse (with periodic limited fall-backs).
      Mindy Boo
      • 1 Day Ago
      Why not build a refinery in Minnesota and transport the gasoline?
        Mindy Boo
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Mindy Boo
        Seems like they could sell a great deal of gasoline by transporting the refined product from the tar sands to areas near cellulose or corn ethanol producers for blending rather than pipe it down to Texas for export or who knows what. If we need gasoline here why do we care how close refineries are to seaports?
        Edge
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Mindy Boo
        Sure at 20 billion a pop, they are cheap to build!
        PR
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Mindy Boo
        Why not build a refinery? Because there is a little secret among oil refineries that they have been running at 10-15% BELOW capacity since around the mid-2000's, and there is absolutely no reason to build any more new refineries. Not in Minnesota, not in Texas. There was a ton of political noise made between approx 1995 to 2005 regarding building more oil refineries because we were approaching 100% capacity, but it is no longer the case. We've been CLOSING refineries in the United States since the 90's, and we still have way more refining capacity than we use every year. http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=MOPUEUS2&f=M Higher CAFE requirements, electric vehicles, fuel mileage requirements for long-haul transportation, more fuel efficient airlines, and higher consumption of bio-fuels are all expected to have long-term reductions in the amount of oil burned in the US. So even as the economy rebounds, oil refining is expected to continue to go down overall in the long term.
          Spec
          • 1 Day Ago
          @PR
          They may be running at capacity now though since WTI is so cheap. They refine the WTI and export the refined product to Mexico & South/Central America.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Day Ago
          @PR
          @PR "there is a little secret" Hardly, oil refinery output is a matter of public record!
        Spec
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Mindy Boo
        There is already a huge refinery build-out down there . . . this will feed it with oil from the continent instead of shipped in. And being on the coast, they can ship refined product out to Mexico, Central American, South America, etc.
        SNP
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Mindy Boo
        They dont have the trillion dollars of ports prebuilt to support the massive oil tankers. Besides, it's too cold and expensive to operate. Why is everybody against this pipeline? We need the energy, we're still importing millions from the mideast. Why not protest for stronger regulations to prevent disasters.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Day Ago
          @SNP
          SNP, you are fighting a losing battle with this audience. What you say makes perfect sense. All natural resource extraction has environmental downsides. OIl in particular. Regulations are proper domain of governments. But sooner or later, there comes a point where the need overides the risk. No regulations can remove the all risk from drilling. That's not a decision for the Oil industry, but governments and the electorate.
          Noz
          • 1 Day Ago
          @SNP
          POLO to the rescue...the biggest apologist of all.
          Noz
          • 1 Day Ago
          @SNP
          Because that will never happen...do you know what lobbyists are?
      Tweaker
      • 1 Day Ago
      Idiots. If we don't take it, the Chinese will.
        DrSandman
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Tweaker
        Amen. Either we burn it cleanly with our multitude of scrubbers, catalysts, and high technology, or the ChiComs burn it dirty, spill it, and spoil the earth. Your choice, Gaia-Firsters
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DrSandman
          Correct. As for Dan... ...again, if you ever set foot in a Chinese refinery or spent a week in a Chinese industrial center, you would either have had a positive response to Sandman, or kept your highly educated and inexperienced mouth shut. US economic output with a barrel of oil far exceeds China's, and the relative cleanliness with which it is used is matched only by Western Europe and Japan.
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DrSandman
          thief thinks every man steals
        Harry
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Tweaker
        Tweaker is right. Canada is going to develop the Alberta sands. No ifs, ands or buts. That oil is going to be sent somewhere and it will be burned. It can in relatively clean cars here in the US and Canada, or it will be shipped to China, via the British Columbia ports. Rejecting XL will be biting off our own nose to spite our face. The oil is going to be burned, the only question is who will benefit from it.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Harry
          We consume the largest amount of oil per capita of any nation. Our boycott of this dirty unconventional oil would be extremely powerful. Just think how a company would fare if it lost >60% of it's customers overnight. We're that customer.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Harry
          samagon0; we can create jobs installing and manufacturing solar panels, wind turbines, and other forms of alternative energy. We can create jobs making lithium batteries here too. You'd rather put people to work building a pipeline for the most environmentally unfriendly source of oil ever? one that will very likely poison our sources of drinking water?
          samagon0
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Harry
          @2 wheeled menace, it's not actually us denying use of the oil, or the refined products the oil produces, that will go on the market and we will use what we need from it. what you're suggesting is that we deny the jobs that will be created for this, both in building the pipeline, and production of the refining process. we're still going to use what it produces.
        Noz
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Tweaker
        Now there's some forward thinking.... Perhaps we should develop new technologies instead? Hey there's a thought..
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Tweaker
        tweaker, you don't think much do you
        Ford Future
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Tweaker
        How will the Chinese take it? Build a pipeline thru Canada, that Canada will not build?
        samagon0
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Tweaker
        not sure why everyone thumbsdown here, it's a true statement, and unfortunately, it's not about nationalistic tendencies of 'we should get it instead of them' but the fact that they will not regulate the refining, or use of the fuel once refined.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 1 Day Ago
      light aerodynamic electric cars..
        Noz
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        SNP... Why are you such a big fktard?? What do you have against a cleaner, better, healthier environment? WTF is wrong with people like? Did Mother Nature pummel you in the a$$ one night and you can't forgive her? Seriously...what is wrong with people like you? Why do you have so much hate for better quality, cleaner things? Are you some old fart who has lived his miserable life and can't stand to see others having a better one than you?
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Electric bikes, aerodynamic improvements to current gas cars, cheaper hybrids, more efficient shipping transport, stop importing everything from China, and panels panels panels! And for the love of god, stop converting petroleum products into fertilizer. nature already provides a better, non-toxic fertilizer that doesn't create oxygen-deprived dead zones in the nearby costs. That's a *huge* waste of oil, and a huge detriment to our ecosystem.
          EZEE
          • 1 Day Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          @2 wheel :D
          SNP
          • 1 Day Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          lol, why stop at cheaper hybrids? Why not free hybrids. Free hybrids AND electric bikes. Let's make all vehicles look like tear drops. Maximum efficiency. And titanium frames for all vehicles to make it light! No more metal skin and engines. I want engines to be built from wood. But not the kind of wood that destroys our planet, the recyclable wood that doesnt burn. +1 for no more oil products for fertilizer. We can use raw sewage, nature's fertilizer. Hell, why do we even need to transport food around? Just grow all the food in the city, plenty of natural fertilizer. I love mother earth ~~ and mother earth loves me~~!!
          Spec
          • 1 Day Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          I think most fertilizers are made with natural gas. Oil is heavily used to make pesticides though.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 1 Day Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          ... you done?
        paulwesterberg
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        and electric trains for passengers and freight.
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Day Ago
      @WM You are like the guy who denies responsibility for killing the steer, while enjoying a roast beef sandwich! We all have friends in the oil industry! The oil industry is so heavily integrated in the world economy, especially the western world, that it's almost impossible to find some part of our lives that is not touched by the oil industry. The paint on your bike, the tyres, the transport to bring every component, the transport to bring the raw material, the capital involved, printing ink, plastic wrapper, brakes, etc...etc.. As I say, well all have friends in the oil industry! (except for DF, who has no friends). But, seriously, it illustrates the gigantic size of the problem the world faces with oil depletion. The silliness of demonizing any industry, without thinking through the consequences, is just ignorant.
      Spec
      • 1 Day Ago
      If there were then they wouldn't be digging it up would they? You really think they would be spending all that money on massive diggers, natural gas, and special refining plants if they had an easy source conventional oil? We are using tar sands because conventional oil production is flat.
      Ford Future
      • 1 Day Ago
      The tar sand operation depends on massive amounts of cheap electricity and cheap natural gas. That price structure is not going to last. And it makes no economic sense to waste cheap electricity on producing this massively dirty fuel. Plus, it also depends on massive amounts of cheap water, which the operation will pollute. You have to wonder how many Canadian Palms were Greased to get this Turd to Fly.
      • 1 Day Ago
      Hate to rain on their parade but no one's home. Obama is in Hawaii for APEC.
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