Protesting the extension of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, three Webster students and an alumna…
Proposed oil pipeline to span across Missouri
A chorus of email alerts and text messages sounding off simultaneously told Webster Students for Environmental Sustainability (WSES) members sitting in the library cafe what they had been hoping to hear. On Jan. 18, Obama announced that the Keystone XL oil pipeline would not be extended.
However, while four WSES members joined 10,000 protesters in Washington D.C., Nov. 6 to take a stand against the Canadian-based oil pipeline, a similar policy was being considered closer to home. Much like the Keystone XL pipeline that was to transport 700,000 barrels of crude oil from the Alberta tar sands per day to Texas to be refined, the Enbridge pipeline is to do the same.
Gov. Jay Nixon supports the Enbridge pipeline. On Jan. 31, Nixon announced this pipeline will cross the state of Missouri, and construction is hoped to begin in mid 2013.
The Enbridge pipeline would stretch 600 miles across the state from Flanagan, Ill., to Cushing, Okla. This newly constructed pipeline would connect to the already existing Enbridge pipelines, one of which is connected to the Alberta tar sands – the same location where the Keystone XL pipeline harvests tar sands. The other pipeline is connected to refineries in Texas.
Kris Parsons, senior human rights major, said the Enbridge pipeline is just an alternative to the Keystone pipeline.
“And it’s going to happen faster and it’s going to be more easy,” Parsons said. “The thing that makes it easier to accomplish is that they’ve already crossed the U.S.-Canada border.”
Because the proposed Enbridge pipeline would not cross international borders, Nixon needs no permission from the federal government to start construction.
‘This is so embarrassing because it’s Missouri,” Parsons said. “This is the home of the Ozarks and the Mississippi River, which the Enbridge pipe will cross. This is just going to sneak pass everybody. They’re going to bring the tar sands right back through Missouri.”
The Enbridge pipe would plunge underneath both the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, which concerns Parsons because of the spills Enbridge pipelines have experienced. In July 2010, 819,000 gallons tainted the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. Recovery crews are still trying to contain the oil, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Liz Forrestal, executive director for Missouri Votes Conservation, said that spills, above or underground, pose a threat to the state’s topography.
“He (Nixon) has to understand that this state of Missouri is geologically unstable,” Forrestal said. “It (the land) is riddled with very porous rock, and so any potential spill that might occur from a pipeline, whether existing or brand new, can seep very quickly into our underground water supplies.”
Jobs are also a huge concern regarding the pipeline. The estimated number of jobs the Enbridge pipeline would create is more than 3,400. Parsons said there is no way Nixon will turn this opportunity down, as it is an election year and the economy and jobs are major issues.
Forrestal said though the pipeline may create new jobs, she does not believe it will create as many as the company has estimated.
“Of course we understand this could be an economic boost, though temporary,” Forrestal said. “I’m not sure I believe the assertions from Enbridge. In the case of the Keystone pipeline, that company over estimated (how many jobs it would create).”
Parsons is now worried whether or not the Enbridge pipeline will gain the attention the Keystone pipeline has. She said that in order to fight this, she and other environmentalists will need the campaign power the Keystone pipeline attracted.
“I wonder if we’ll be able to mobilize around this issue in the same way we mobilized around ‘No Keystone XL,’” Parsons said. “That was a legitimate campaign. It was like a brand name.”
She said WSES and the Sierra Student Coalition will be planning and taking actions shortly. Parsons said she wants environmentalists to be more proactive instead of reactive to potentially hazardous projects like the Enbridge pipeline.
“We shouldn’t be mobilizing around a common enemy, we should be mobilizing around a common goal,” Parsons said.