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Cary Brunswick

July 10, 2013

Halting pipeline a matter of environmental morality

Have you ever seen a photograph of the Alberta tar sands, the Canadian oil fields that would be the source of the crude flowing through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline?

Better yet, also look at some photos of the region before oil drilling began. I am sure you would be disgusted at the destruction and begin to question the environmental morality of the pipeline.

President Obama, who is expected to announce a decision on the pipeline by year’s end, is sounding like he does not know where to turn when it comes to climate change and the environment. He knows what we need to do, but he does not seem to know which roads to take to get all the way there.

The tar sands area contains an estimated 2 trillion barrels of oil. However, extracting it would turn a region the size of Florida into a wasteland. That raping of the hills and valleys of the eastern slopes of the Rockies has already begun, sending North American natives fleeing from the contaminated wildlife and water.

The proposed pipeline would take that tar-sands oil through the middle of the U.S. to refineries on the Gulf Coast. However, first, the heavy tar-sands crude must be extracted from a mixture of sand, clay and bitumen. That process requires the use of natural gas to produce heat and steam to melt the oil out of the sand.

Processing the oil at refineries also demands more time and energy. In all, the production of tar-sands oil generates three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventionally produced oil.

The president does appear to be serious about the problem of climate change and global warming, and therefore has stated his commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

Two weeks ago, after years of Congress doing nothing because so many lawmakers consider global warming a fantasy, Obama announced actions he would take that do not require congressional approval.

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Cary Brunswick

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