Keystone XL pipeline hyperbole heats up

Michael Giberson

Oh the hyperbole of it all:

In addition to pollution and harm to the environment, Keystone XL directly puts at risk the land of families across a full stretch of our country. The pipeline would cross through six states and several major rivers, in addition to the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies clean water to two million Americans. The present Keystone pipeline has already experienced 7 leaks, making the question when, not if, Keystone XL will also have a disastrous spill.

(Note: The link to Mother Jones was in the source document.)

The present Keystone pipeline “has already experienced 7 leaks,” but it isn’t obvious that any of the 7 have been disastrous, except perhaps at a very local level, so why expect Keystone XL to have a disastrous spill?

The most recent event, a pumping station problem in North Dakota, “caused the spill of about 500 barrels of oil … Most of the spilled oil was contained by a berm around the pumping station but some oil mist had to be cleaned from standing water in a nearby field… an environmental geologist with the North Dakota Health Department’s water quality program said groundwater contamination does not appear to be an issue.”

Not to alarm anyone, but the Ogallala Aquifer is already crossed by hundreds of miles of crude oil, petroleum product and natural gas pipelines. There have been pipelines crossing the aquifer for years and years. Find a pipeline map on the internet, see for yourself. These pipelines leak from time to time, and sometimes the effects are locally serious. Nonetheless, even an anti-pipeline filmmaker/political activist/Huffington Post -columnist trying to exaggerate the potential risks of another pipeline couldn’t avoid the fact that the aquifer continues to supply clean water to two million Americans. It must not be that risky, right? I’m guessing that all six states and each of several major rivers, too, have survived being crossed with a pipeline or two.

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