After lengthy debates back and forth about the Keystone XL Pipeline, President Obama has officially put his foot down and vetoed the bill that would allow construction to begin on this environmental monstrosity. Although the pipeline has been lauded for its ability to get America off the ever-dreaded “foreign” oil and create permanent jobs for a whopping 35 people, there are many major environmental concerns that would come along with Keystone XL.
If constructed, the pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the tar sand region of Alberta, Canada to a refinery in Houston, Texas. Traversing a staggering 1,702 miles, the likelihood that the pipe could spill is extremely high. Considering the fact that the pipeline would run across the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers and many vital wildlife preserves along the way, the risk of a spill cannot be taken lightly.
There are also other far reaching negative impacts of the pipeline. The process of extracting natural gas from the tar sands in Alberta would require 2.5 million gallons of freshwater per day, which equates to 2.5 million gallons of water polluted with toxic “fracking fluids” and heavy metals. This water will either be injected into underground waste wells or live out its days in aquifers. It is also estimated the pipeline will create more carbon emissions than putting 5.6 million new cars on the road.
If you couldn’t tell, we’re pretty pumped that President Obama rejected the Keystone legislation… but turns out we’re not the only ones who are pleased with the Prez, these animals are pretty pumped as well.
1. The Canada Lynx
These wild cats can be found in Canada’s boreal forests, one of the prime extraction sites for tar sands. Habitat destruction is one of the largest threats facing these animals and if the Keystone were to go ahead, it would mean slicing and dicing their native ecosystem to create roads and drilling wells. Luckily, there is now hope that these furry guys will have a fighting chance at survival.
2. The Woodland Caribou
Tar sands mining across Canada has systematically reduced the native range of the Woodland caribou to a small section of the northern boreal forests. This important animal is known as an indicator species, meaning the health of their population can be used to gauge the health of the greater forest ecosystem. And the decline in their numbers does not tell a hopeful story. Scientists warn that if this area of forest continues to disappear for tar sand mining, the Woodland caribou will disappear in the next 30 years. BUT with the rejection of Keystone bill, President Obama just might have bought these animals some more time!
3. The Northern Swift Fox
The fox species is known for their cunning ability to evade most sticky situations, however, this ability has not been able to protect the Northern Swift Fox. In recent years, around 90 percent of the Swift fox’s native habitat has been destroyed. Pipeline construction not only limits the habitat for these animals, but also poses a threat to their dens which can be easily crushed by industrial vehicles and paving operations.
Thankfully, due to Obama’s “swift” action (Ha, get it!), these special animals will have the chance to raise their cubs in peace.
Work Yet to be Done
While Obama’s veto of the legislation that would approve the pipeline is a great news, big oil proponent Senator Mitch McConnell is working to have this decision overturned as soon as March 3rd. We need to continue to show our support for the animals (and humans!) who will be impacted by this horrible pipeline and keep fighting for what is right!
Lead image source: Don Sutherland/Flickr