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Keystone pipeline: Let's wait for the facts

Upstream Oil and Gas ActivitiesEnvironmental PollutionOil and Chemical SpillsBarack ObamaBP Plc

The op-ed by retired Gulf Oil vice president Charles Campbell ("D.C.'s Keystone Kops) claims President Obama's refusal to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline was made only for political reasons. This couldn't be further from the truth. There is still much contention about legal issues, the siting of the pipeline and the pollution it might lead to. President Obama's decision has only provided a feverish, unreasonable reaction by environmental bashers.

The story of the Keystone XL oil pipeline is a lot more complicated than the simplistic, often inaccurate statements in the op ed piece.

The article says no major spills have occurred in existing pipelines. What is he waiting for? A BP spill? There have been many pipeline spills, some devastating and polluting to water sources. This pipeline would be higher heated and more corrosive than most since it will carry the diluted bitumen — thick sands mixed with natural gas to thin it.

The overriding concern to the livelihood of U.S. citizens is the high increase in air pollution. Doubling U.S. imports of tar sands means the cutting down of 740,000 acres of Canadian boreal forest. Even a small amount of water pollution would be devastating.

But then there are the details. A few of the many questions about the whys and wheres of the Keystone XL pipeline are:

•What happened to the existing refinery in the Midwest?

•Are the only refineries that remain the ones in Texas? Is single control wise?

•Anywhere the pipeline will be dug will cause traffic disruption, disruptions by construction sites through towns and villages, through farmlands, ranches, prairies and waterways. Are the people ready for this?

•Will the pipeline be dug through the Nebraska Sand hills? Over the Ogallala aquifer, near the Yellowstone River (which has already suffered an oil spill)?

•How much of the refined oil will go to the USA? How much will be exported?

•How about the possibility to a legal challenge to the president over the "national interest requirement" when a foreign country is connected to the USA?

Loud pronouncements about the Keystone XL oil pipeline are vapid hot air until careful realistic assessments are accomplished. These bombastic pronouncements and absurd namecalling are rallying political cries themselves and are impediments to reasonable solutions that are truly in the best interests of the country.

Ellen Kelly, Baltimore

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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