The Pipeline that Divided the Nation

The Pipeline that Divided the Nation

Written by Sarah Burns and Teah Sargent

 The recent shut down of the Keystone Pipeline’s construction was a controversial decision. 

The Keystone Pipeline was proposed in 2008 by TC Energy to quickly transport fossil fuels, particularly tar sand oil, to the market. It was intended to expand the use of tar sand oil in Canada and the US. One segment of the pipeline has already been completed, stretching from Oklahoma to Texas. The second segment would have connected the pipeline and carried fuel from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska. However, before the pipeline could be completed, President Biden shut down its construction.

Initial pipeline construction started with a mix of praise and scrutiny. Many feared  the environmental impact if the tar sand oil spilled. The Natural Resources Defense Council states, “Since it first went into operation in 2010, TC Energy’s original Keystone Pipeline System has leaked more than a dozen times; one incident in North Dakota sent a 60-foot, 21,000-gallon geyser of tar sands oil spewing into the air.” 

Along with the threat of oil spills, climate impact has been another concern, with multiple environmental groups saying the Keystone pipeline would contribute to global warming and harm the local species affected by its construction. However, the State Department states in a 2014 assessment that, “The Keystone XL pipeline would have no additional impact on greenhouse gas emissions because the oil would be extracted from tar sands in Canada.” This was contested by the Environmental Protection Agency, who stated, “Extracting oil from the tar sands generates more greenhouse gases than extracting oil through more conventional methods and therefore contributes to a greater amount of greenhouse gas emissions over time.”

Others argue in support of the pipeline, pointing out that the construction of the pipeline would be beneficial to the economy. It is believed that the Keystone pipeline will provide numerous job opportunities and economic benefits. The State Department estimates that the pipeline would create 42,100 jobs over the one to two years of the pipeline’s construction, and would create 50 permanent jobs. Those who were employed to work on the pipeline lost their jobs upon the end of its construction.

With President Biden shutting down the pipeline’s development, Woodgrove students shared their thoughts on the matter.

Twelfth grader Julia Hubbuch, agrees with President Biden’s decision. “It has single-handedly polluted drinking-water systems, posed pervasive threats to the environment, and supposedly is a prominent factor in climate change.” 

Tenth grader Ivy Nash warns of political ramifications, “I think that politically there would be many issues for Biden because he promised to shut down the pipeline, and if he went back on that decision, he would have a very small chance of reelection.”

Hubbuch weighed in and said, “The Keystone Pipeline could include an increased divide between the Democratic and Republican parties.”

President Biden states, “The United States must prioritize the development of a clean energy economy, which will, in turn, create good jobs. The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest. The United States must be in a position to exercise vigorous climate leadership in order to achieve a significant increase in global climate action and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway.  Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives.”