Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Largest Environmental Protest in History

On February 17, 2013, thousands of protesters marched on Washington in opposition to the Keystone Pipeline addition, in what many are describing as the biggest environmental protest in our nation’s history. The Keystone Pipeline transports crude oil from Canada to refineries located in the United States through an underground pipe system. The proposed addition would take the pipeline farther, all the way down into Texas along the Gulf Coast. The project is in limbo until the President decides to approve or deny the necessary permits. As of January 2012, President Obama wanted more time for an environmental assessment before coming to a final decision, which is expected soon. Proponents of the addition say that the pipeline will help promote energy security, create jobs, stimulate the economy, and reduce reliance on foreign oil. Others are worried that the pipeline will undermine Obama’s new clean energy policy and present more serious and immediate threats to the environment. People are worried about the potentially disastrous effects of an oil spill on the environment, especially where the pipeline crosses ecologically precious and sensitive areas. One of the proposed routes for the pipeline addition crosses directly over one of the country’s largest fresh water aquifers, which provides drinking water to over two million people. An additional proposed route places the pipeline directly over an active seismic zone which had a major earthquake as recently as 2002. Another major environmental concern is the increase of carbon emissions or greenhouse gases which are the major contributor to global warming. Landowners are also concerned that they may have to live with the pipeline buried on their land or even worse, lose their homes under eminent domain to make room for the pipeline. The environmental risks with disastrous consequences seem to far outweigh the benefits of the pipeline. Despite the impressive size of the demonstration, the President was not in Washington to see it. -Rachel Goldstein, Legal Intern