The Pros and Cons of the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline System

By  Thomas Barrington-Craggs.

What is the Keystone XL oil pipeline

The Keystone XL oil pipeline is a proposed oil pipeline, which will traverse most of North America from Alberta through Nebraska to Texas.  It is designed to carry up to 830,000 barrels of petroleum per day from the oil sands.  The oil sands are where the “crude oil” is extracted (see cons 3rd paragraph).

The pipeline has not been approved yet, and I hope it will not be under the new liberal government. I think the pipeline is a terrible idea and should not be built because the cons outweigh the pros.


One of the strongest arguments in favor of the pipeline is “the creation of jobs in the United States.” According to the  New York Times, the pipeline will create 24000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline but only thirty-five permanent ones.

Building the pipeline would contribute 3.4 billion dollars to the US economy but not actually help Canada at all. (I really do not understand why anyone would want to give that much money to the US.)

Many people in favor of the pipeline argue that the risk of pipeline leaks is unacceptable. However, the the US State Department found that pipelines are our safest option for transporting oil and gas. If you want proof that other transport methods can be more dangerous, think about the rail accident in Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada in 2014.

Editorialists from the New York Times argues that whether the pipeline is built or not, Canadians will extract their tar sands, so the same amount of carbon would be released into the atmosphere. But if they build the pipeline, then gas prices will go down because they will have more of it,  the oil sands will be more viable, and therefore they would extract more oil.

Our US trading relationship would become friendlier because we are passing them raw oil so they can process it. But they will make more money than they spend to process it, so really we are just helping their economy. Sure we want to be best friends with the States, but we should also want to help our own economy.


The Keystone XL would contribute to climate change by the oil being sold and burned, which overall, considering the amount of oil that would be shipped per day and the amount of it being shipped to other countries, surely it would make some kind of difference.  

There are different types of extraction – the first is strip mining. This lovely way of destroying acres of pristine boreal forest is probably the most economically effective but also the most environmentally disruptive and polluting way of getting oil. The first step to strip mining is to destroy a large area that will be mined, then dig in further around the middle part and collect the fresh bitumen (unprocessed oil)!!

A second method of extracting the oil from the oil sands is steam pumping. This creates toxic runoff that spreads from tailings ponds to surrounding lakes. Tailings ponds are small lakes that are made from the extraction waste and water. Over the years, the oil goes to the bottom and they take the water on top and use it to mine even more. Basically, they blast steam into a large hole in the ground and as the pressure builds up it releases the oil so it is easy to access.  

Oil pipeline leaks will be more frequent. Because there is a lot of water in the oil sands, the water actually rusts the pipeline faster than normal oil, which quickly creates a  breach that allows large amounts of oil to spill out onto the ground and contaminate the soil and affect the wildlife greatly. The thick mud-like tar produced by heavy oil from sands is very damaging to plants and animals, and it is very important that they do not make the pipeline because of the endangered species that Canada protects.

The Canadian company TransCanada initially proposed the pipeline in 2005 and applied to the State Department for a construction permit in 2008. It was not approved by the American government, but now TransCanada is suing the US for fifteen billion dollars ($15,000,000,000 USD).

I propose that we build a processor right by the oil sands, or we could not mine any more oil and use solar power, hydro and/or wind power!! I think that we should stop using oil entirely and continue exploring natural and renewable resources.


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