Politics with NAZ: Keystone XL Pipeline

Nathan A Zimmerman –

There has been a lot of post-election events in the news these last couple of weeks but the one I am going to focus on is the dramatic circumstances of the Keystone XL pipeline.

To begin to understand the events of this past week, it is important to know just what the pipeline details are. The Keystone XL project is essentially an extension of the existing Keystone pipeline network that already goes through multiple states, one being Illinois!

The Keystone Pipeline is backed by TransCanada, an energy company based in Alberta, Canada. The proposed addition to the pipeline provides a straighter path from the oil sands in Hardisty, Alberta and Steele City, Nebraska. The last constructed section of the pipeline connected Steele City with the Gulf Coast in Texas, making the route from Alberta to Steele City the last piece of the Keystone puzzle.

First, let us look at the arguments for the pipeline. Obviously the business sector, some unions, and the construction industry favor the pipeline. Their arguments highlight the wealth that can be obtained through the American processing and exports of the oil, as well as job creation. Northern states in the middle section of the country favor the pipeline as it allows a way to ship shale oil that is extracted from the respective states to be more effectively transported to the Southern refineries. It is this straight projected path from between Alberta and Steele City that is argued to increase the effectiveness of transporting the oil. Presently, the current route goes along the edge of the Canadian-American border and crosses at a point in eastern North Dakota. By having the straight line route, more oil can be transported faster.

Opponents of the pipeline include environmentalists, landowners, and some unions. As always, the environment is a huge issue and the oil sands are said to contribute even more greenhouse gases to the growing problem of global warming. Also, if the pipeline were to experience an oil spill, that would have great consequences for the future of that area. This is the single greatest argument against the pipeline as it passes right through the Ogallala Aquifer, a large body of water underneath many states, one of those being Nebraska.

Since this project involves international parties, the State Department was in charge of conducting extensive research on the matter and found out many interesting conclusions in regards to the arguments of the two opposing sides. 1.) There will be an estimated 42,000 jobs created during the construction process according to an article on the CNN website, and after construction, there will be around 35 permanent jobs to run the pipeline. 2.) The emissions from the oil sands are projected to not be significantly harmful to the environment.

These two findings alone offer the biggest blow to both arguing factions, so why is there still such great controversy? Quite frankly you can look to the politicians in today’s completely polarized society who want to appease only one side or the other so no progress occurs or the bill dies, as it happened in the Senate on November 19 by 1 vote. Even if it did pass the Senate, there was an extremely strong chance it would be vetoed by President Obama due to his allegiance with the environmental fractions.

With costs to build the pipeline increasing, the amount of claimed jobs created through its passing being a significant overstatement, and the price of oil and gas is the lowest we have seen in such a long period of time, I am not convinced the bill will ever pass and if it does, I’m not sure TransCanada will even be interested still if someday the bill actually passes.

I think the Keystone Pipeline may be a thing of the past; there are more pressing issues at hand which Congress should concentrate on, such as immigration. For more on that, look for next time’s thoughts in Politics with NAZ.


Nathan A. Zimmerman, from Mt. Sterling, Illinois, is a junior majoring in Finance and Economics with a minor in Political Science. Nathan is the Organizational Outreach Chair of the Student Senate, the President of the Warren O. Billhartz Investment Club, as well as an active member of Enactus. Nathan is a features and opinions writer for The Rambler.

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