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From the Daily: Protest the pipeline

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published October 2, 2011

At a time when jobs are scarce and fuel prices are high, Americans are expecting positive action from the government. With this in mind, many people are putting their support behind a project involving an oil pipeline that runs from Canada through the middle of the United States. However, the proposal is a short-term solution with risks that far outweigh the potential benefits. While the pipeline would create thousands of temporary jobs, the environmental threat in the event of an incident is a major concern. The U.S. Department of State should not allow this project to move forward and should instead focus efforts on investing in renewable forms of energy.

There have been nationwide protests against this project, primarily on the basis of environmental concerns. The Canadian oil company TransCanada has proposed to build the oil pipeline from Canada through Nebraska, Oklahoma and other states down to Texas. The pipeline would be close to 2,000 miles in length and is expected to create an estimated 20,000 jobs during the construction process. Recent reports say the project will most likely be supported by the State Department, but it is unclear whether the department will approve it.

The oil pipeline, called Keystone XL, would be a politically safe source of oil for our country. Canada and the U.S. are on good terms and receiving oil from Canada would decrease the nation’s dependency on the Organization Of Petroleum Exporting Countries. However, the oil pipeline poses a multitude of environmental threats. While officials behind the project have stressed that all safety precautions would be taken, history has shown that safety precautions are often insufficient.

For example, a little over a year ago, a pipeline constructed by Enbridge Energy spilled more than 843,000 gallons of oil sands crude near Marshall, Mich. To this day, a 35-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River remains closed. And no one can forget the horrific BP oil spill that devastated the Gulf of Mexico last summer — a disaster which is still being corrected.

These risks are not worth the benefit of creating temporary construction jobs. Many residents in the pipeline’s path want the project to be approved because it will create jobs, but the pipeline could threaten the livelihood of farmers in the pipeline’s path in the event of a spill.

The creation of jobs should be high on the Obama administration’s priority list, but it should not come at the expense of the environment. Rather, the nation should focus on creating alternative and sustainable forms of energy. The pursuit of sustainable energy would create jobs for the scientists and engineers who work to develop the resources. The goal should be to create jobs while simultaneously moving away from petroleum dependency.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton — likely with input from Obama — will ultimately have to decide whether to endorse this project, and the people protesting the issue should make their voices heard. The oil pipeline project should not move forward, and the nation should instead work on developing alternative forms of energy that can create jobs for the future.


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