(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – “It never worked before, I seriously doubt if it’ll work now!” These were the words uttered by this mysterious oil and gas CEO of 20 years regarding tar sands in the United States in general. When we asked him about the Kyestone XL Pipeline, the words that this industry-insider spoke were a shock given the current enviro-politico battles raging over the project. “The XL Pipeline is a dangerous situation that probably won’t do us ANY good at all!” were the words used by the 42-year-career oilman and “downhole” expert, in regards to the massive undertaking, that many environmentalist say if completed, WILL be the final nail in the coffin for a safe and stable climate.
In our part 3 coverage of our exclusive interview with the anonymous CEO, we explore the dirty details behind the 70’s and 80’s petroleum mining experiment that he said should have been scrapped when it didn’t work in the first place.
The sheer magnitude of the Alberta Tar Sands project has given birth to one of the world’s most expansive pipeline projects, via way of one of humanity’s largest carbon-emitting, wilderness-wrecking, eyesores. The greatest controversy of the four part project has arisen over the 4th and final phase of the continental snake, that is geared to run from the source in Hardisty, Alberta, through Montana and South Dakota, and over the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska, connecting eventually at the pipeline junction in Steele City, Nebraska where it joins into the existing Southward-moving Keystone-Cushing Pipeline, to the petroleum and holding tank hub in Cushing, Oklahoma. The bitumen crude would then be piped directly South from Cushing through the 3rd phase of the pipeline, currently under construction, to Texas where it will be refined and reportedly sold and shipped overseas for consumption.
The Ogallala Aquifer is one of the largest reserves of fresh water on the entire planet, and quenches the thirst of over 2 million people while providing hydration for over 20 billion dollars worth of agriculture per year, and environmentalists say that a major spill into the Ogallala could tarnish drinking water over 8 states while devastating the entire Midwestern economy.
In addition to the dangers of a major spill into the Ogallala, environmentalists in tandem with the EPA, the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), and others have cited the fact that the behemoth carbon footprint stamped by the Athabasca project is simply unjustifiable considering the current climate quandary. Tar sands oil, is highlighted for putting off at least 17% more carbon emissions than conventional crude during the refining process, and concerned citizens, scientists, and environmentalists also point to the fact that excessive heavy metals, and even radioactive substances are known to be emitted during the refining of the thick and carbon-loaded form of fossil energy.
Bituminous sands, aka bitumen crude or asphalt, is a quite nasty and uber thick little substance, that’s viscosity is said to be equal to that of cold molasses, and that’s innards contain the likes of sulfur, lead, nickel, mercury, arsenic, vanadium, chromium, selenium, and many other toxic metals and substances that are often released in the refining process. A battle is currently raging in Utah near PR Springs where America’s first commercial tar sands mining operation has been approved, and outraged citizens and concerned scientists are sounding the alarm over the seemingly inevitable release of Uranium from bitumen taken from the Rocky Mountain region.
On the environmental front, another aspect that is often highlighted, and that has gained worldwide notoriety as of late during the large Exxon bitumen spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, is that tar sands crude is extremely heavy and difficult to clean up, and often sinks instead of floating in water, making some cleanup efforts nearly impossible. Exxon has recently become a laughing stock in the mainstream media for their use of papertowels as a cleanup tool, and according to many on the ground in Mayflower, has been flowndering about in a largely fruitless effort to remove the viscous substance from waterways and multiple environmentally sensitive areas.
Opposition to Keystone XL has been fierce, and has fueled some of the largest protests and marches on Washington in American history. Tar Sands Blockade has been a continual thorn in the side of the transcontinental snake, and has seen many activist warriors hauled off in the paddy wagon in handcuffs after chaining themselves to buldozers and various pieces of equipment. In addition to Tar Sands Blockade, the No Tar Sands Oil campaign was launched in 2010 and brings together under one roof, a powerful group of activist organizations including Greenpeace, Corporate Ethics International, Friends of the Earth, NRDC, the Sierra Club, 350.org, and the National Wildlife Federation, who all stand together in solidarity against an energy plan that they say accelerates humanity into the climate abyss.
President Obama at first seemed receptive to the potential environmental devastation that could be unleashed from the pipeline, but in recent months, and in light of what many called an incomplete and shortsighted environmental impact review, the President seems poised to approved the final and heavily embattled 4th phase of the project.
Another common complaint put forth by Keystone opponents is that the completion of the pipeline will enable dirty bitumen, frequently used for road surfacing and roofing, to make it’s way to the Gulf of Mexico where it will pollute U.S. air and water further by being refined here, only to be inturn sold off to international clients like Venezuela at a profit to it’s Canadian owner. “Is it really gonna reduce the price of gas for you people. Why do ya even bother?” was the question posed by the oilpatch executive in black featured here in this newsreel, and barring environmental concerns, one is certainly left to ask weather U.S. citizens are to receive any net-positive economic results from the project, after massive transnational companies are bloated to the gills from their profits.
The “All Risk, No Reward” Coalition which includes the League of Women Voters, the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, STOP Tarsands, Keystone XL Truthforce, Nebraska Farmers Union, and many others has been asking very similar questions as of late, and has also released a compelling ad that seeks to inform people to the frequency and prevellency of oil spills, while highlighting that the end product will be shipped to “China and Venezuela”.
Despite all the ruffled feathers over the simply massive petroleum transportation project, it is expected that President Obama will make a decision on the 4th and final stage of the proposal in the upcoming weeks. Many say that the fate of the great Ogallala Aquifer, and possibly the climate itself, hang perilously in the balance of the President’s pen.
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