The Keystone XL pipeline — which Donald Trump gave the go-ahead to continue just a few days into his administration, begins in Alberta, Canada. The area it gets the oil from is known as the Canada oil sands, also called tar sands (use of either term is controversial), and ends in Patoka as well as points in Texas along the Gulf of Mexico.
Proponents of the pipeline say it will lessen dependence on foreign oil while creating jobs and growing domestic industry. However, many Americans, and primarily Native Americans, are furious about Trump’s executive order.
Barack Obama killed the Keystone XL pipeline in November 2015, stating it wouldn’t have helped lower gas prices or create that many jobs. He also said the long-term contribution to climate change — possibly more than 22 billion metric tons of carbon pollution, according to Scientific American — wasn’t worth the loss of America’s global leadership on fighting emissions that exacerbate global warming.
“If we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming inhabitable, if not inhospitable […] we have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground,” Obama said.
Trump’s televised revival of Keystone XL didn’t mention its steep environmental costs, including the 54,000 square miles (140,000 square kilometers) of pristine Alberta wilderness that may be industrialized to feed it.
“We’re not saying the project is good or bad. We’re just saying the scale and severity of what’s happening in Alberta will make your spine tingle,” Robert Johnson, a former Business Insider correspondent, wrote after flying over the Canadian oil sands in May 2012.
Take a look at the picture gallery of Johnson’s photo essay below, which shows Canadian oil mining — a process in which tar-laden sand is dug from the ground and the oil is separated through a lengthy and messy process.
The scale of the whole project is simply astonishing, but it is not the scale of the destruction that is the most shocking fact of the project.
It would take an area of approximately 10,000 square miles covered in solar panels meet all of America’s electricity requirements.
If an area the size of the Canada Tar Sands project was used for SOLAR ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION instead, not only would the whole project be cheaper and have next to no impact on the environment, it would supply significantly more clean energy than is required to power the ENTIRE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!
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