Frontline: Do we want to bleed the earth dry? - The Western Front: Opinion

Frontline: Do we want to bleed the earth dry?

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Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 9:05 am

A menacing snake of oil and steel threatens to worm its way through the heart of the United States, carrying 83,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast.

The outcome of the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline has been up in the air for the past few years, causing fevered clamor from environmentalists and stubborn just-the-facts responses from the pipeline’s supporters.

Green-lighting this pipeline would effectively cement the idea of oil as our nation’s primary energy for the future. Even with all the talk around the Keystone XL pipeline, it seems any and all renewable energy alternatives are still stuck on the back burner of politics.

A recent environmental impact assessment from the U.S. State Department stated the pipeline would have no major impact on climate change. But, the same assessment admitted the pipeline could cause an additional 27 million metric tons of carbon released each year — or the impact of an additional 5.7 million cars on the road.

A promising opportunity for Western Washington University to show its sustainable spirit and join in the nationwide opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline is just around the corner. Monday, Feb. 17, is Environmental Lobby Day in Olympia, Wash. — an event organized by the Environmental and Sustainability Program through the Associated Students.

Western students must rally together and show lawmakers the Keystone XL pipeline is not a solution, but a problem. This editorial board would much rather see a boom in green energy jobs and production than the building of a new, polished pipeline to pump the last of earth’s black blood through America’s heartland. The world is in dire need of a change in energy policy — not more oil.

President Obama has said the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline is dependent on the scale and degree to which it will affect carbon pollution. Sure, it’s wise to wait for the numbers and facts to roll in — but it seems self-evident that the extraction and large-scale use of tar sands (the densest and dirtiest of crude oils) is no bowl of warm soup to our sick, polluted and bedridden Earth.

This editorial board recognizes a few benefits the pipeline could bring to the country, such as a few thousand temporary jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil imports (a most worthy goal indeed).

On the other hand, the pipeline offers Americans an ultimatum — we can continue to trust in oil and disregard its harmful long-term effects on our planet, or we can accept that the time has come to adjust to the growing needs of the 21st century. Yes, now is the time when we must invest in safer sources of energy for the sake of future generations.

Environmentalists must go head-to-head with the country’s foreboding petroleum interests and its growing pool of money, influence and power. 

Three years ago, the Keystone pipeline’s first environmental impact assessment was thrown out by the Obama administration due to a conflict of interest. Cardno Entrix, the contractor paid to study the pipeline’s possible impacts on the environment, was found to have lied about its financial ties to TransCanada (Keystone XL’s owner). Really?

Well, it happened again. Environmental Resource Management, the contractor chosen to put together the most recent assessment, failed to disclose a number of conflicts of interest to the State Department. On top of working with TransCanada, ERM was found to be associated with the American Petroleum Institute, which spent $6 million in lobbying expenses just last year.

To make your voice heard over the frantic shouting of oil interests and lobbyists, attend the Environmental Lobby Day on Monday, Feb. 17, in Olympia, Wash.

Think of the past. Live in the present. Act for the future.

This editorial board is comprised of Opinion Editor Bennett Hanson, Editor-in-Chief Allana Schwaab and Managing Editor Joshua Hart.

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