Often times in politics the President and congressmen and women are faced with the lesser of two evils. And yet another is making its way to the top of every newscast this week.
The Keystone Pipeline extension has been on America’s mind for over four years now and was frequently postponed. Now, Obama must make a tough decision for America’s energy future.
The original pipeline runs from Alberta, Canada to Patoka, Ill. and began functioning in June 2010. A proposed extension popped up in 2008 – the Keystone XL.
In 2011, the State Department postponed a final decision on the project, because of the effects it would have to the Sand Hills in Nebraska. Ultimately, President Obama rejected the application on Jan. 18, 2012 after pressure from Republican senators forced him to make a decision within a 60-day constraint.
On Sept. 5, 2012 another report was issued by TransCanda, the owners of the Keystone Pipeline, indicating potential new routes.
On one side of the argument you have a reduced dependence on foreign oil, a boost to the American economy and thousands of potential American jobs – all very, very important topics as the U.S. tries to reassemble post-recession.
The other side holds equally important issues, mainly devastating environmental effects – oil spills, greenhouse gases and water pollutants.
In an economy facing the most serious recession since the Great Depression it is hard to tell the over 46 million Americans living below the poverty line that you want to stop job increases and keep paying nearly four dollars at the pump.
Most Americans who have had their driver’s licenses for more than ten years remember days when gas prices were under two dollars.
Remember Hurricane Fran on Sept. 6, 1996? The national gas average was $1.42.
What about Clinton’s famous statement, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” on Jan. 26, 1998? The national gas average was $1.32 on that day.
With the threat of gas prices rising until Memorial Day 2013, Americans are desperate for a solution.
The TransCanada website explains the American need for energy security as, “Given that the U.S. cannot produce sufficient energy to meet domestic needs, energy security is essentially the ability to obtain necessary imported energy from sources that are stable and friendly to US interests.”
TransCanada also quotes the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. exports of petroleum products (diesel fuel, gasoline, etc.) in 2011 were greater than imports for the first time in more than 60 years.”
Opposition to the project has come out in full-force to hinder any support for the pipeline extension, drawing support from several celebrities.
NASA scientist James Hansen boldly stated the pipeline would be “game over for the planet.”
Actress Daryl Hannah was arrested for criminal trespassing on TransCanada property during a protest of the pipeline.
Jill Stein, a 2012 Presidential candidate, was arrested for criminal trespassing while trying to deliver food to protestors.
Tar Sands Blockade, a direct action coalition to peacefully stop the Keystone XL, volunteer Brady Bradshaw spoke out against the development of the rich oil sands in Canada.
“The Canadian tar sands project is the single most environmentally destructive and toxic, largest and most life-threatening project that our government has ever been complicit in. While touted as an energy solution, this project will use more energy than it produces,” said Bradshaw.
Bradshaw explained that volunteers like himself are willing to physically protest the Keystone XL expansion: “Movements like tar sands blockade, tar sands free northeast, idle no more and the unist’ot’en clan are saying ‘no more’ to all of this by laying their bodies on the line by physically blockading the construction of toxic tar sands wherever they threaten the biology of the planet and the ways of life that strive to preserve the planet.”
The Tar Sands Blockade organization is hosting a “Week of Action” encouraging supporters to organize a demonstration in their local area from March 16 to 23.
The struggle between environmental groups and Americans who support the drilling has peaked at a tense stalemate as Obama is trying to pass the bill.
A recent assessment by the State department issued a report that concluded the Keystone XL will not have significant impact on the U.S. climate.
The report also added that the Canada tar sands will be developed with or without U.S. help, but that the United States could meet energy needs without the pipeline’s oil.
Once again Americans are caught between strong environmental and scientific backlash and a desperate desire to lower energy costs.
When assessing my own opinion on the pipeline, like many Americans I feel caught between a rock and a hard place. I might be able to represent my feelings as 55% for Keystone and 45% against Keystone.
Where do you stand in America’s energy debate?