The Myth Of Environmental Danger From The Keystone XL Pipeline

I’ve expressed my reservations about the Keystone XL Pipeline as a conservative who hates eminent domain, but there may be ways to get around that problem (as I learned from the comment to my earlier post).

The main popular objection to the pipeline is an environmental concern. Thus, the Latin Post reports,

According to an earlier Pew Research Center poll cited earlier by Washington Post, last year only 66 percent of Americans supported the project while 23 percent opposed it.

The recent increase of approval comes from the belief that the pipeline project will create a significant number of jobs. Despite the fact that 85 percent of the people interviewed say it will create much-needed jobs in the country, 47 percent of all people surveyed believe the Keystone XL poses a substantial risk to the environment.

How can the pipeline pose a substantial risk to the environment? One class of objections are about global warming. It goes like this:

  1. If the Keystone XL Pipeline goes through that will increase Canada’s fuel production.
  2. Increased fuel will promote more fuel use
  3. Increased fuel use will increase global warming.

The first problem with this, of course, is that man-made global warming is highly doubtful and certainly unproven. The claim that there is global warming going on at all is doubtful.

Even if there were evidence for man-made global warming, we would still have several other questions. I don’t think anyone can rationally claim, even if we accept the premise, that the fuel from the proposed pipeline will, by itself, significantly raise global temperatures.

More importantly, would the extra consumption by the U.S. market really be so much more than the alternative markets to which Canada will sell without the pipeline? How much of that oil would remain unused without the pipeline?

I don’t understand why anyone finds the global warming argument compelling.

The second class of environmental objections is about pollution coming from the pipeline itself. It is treated as a dire threat. Does this make sense? Right now, there are 2,600,000 miles of gas pipeline in the United States. The Keystone proposes another 852 miles, which comes to an increase of .033 percent. Why should that change constitute a dire threat to the environment?

Pipeline Map

It shouldn’t. It is nothing more than superstition to oppose Keystone XL for environmental reasons.