Republicans want to proceed with the KXL pipeline. Many serving and prospective representatives have stated the pipeline will be a priority on their agenda. Their reasons include the creation of jobs, an increase in oil production, safe transport of tar sands, and lower gas prices.
Midwesterners and people all over the country, who have researched the proposed pipeline and already existing pipelines, have come to different conclusions. We also have other more important reasons to oppose the pipeline. Farmers, ranchers, Souix and Ponca natives, environmentalists, and scientists have united in opposition, and we have launched a movement dedicated to clean energy, jobs, and protection of the environment. Action against the pipeline has joined advocates in a new union - the Cowboy Indian Alliance. We are determined to reject the KXL pipeline and to protect our environment by promoting the use of clean, renewable energy. (boldnebraska.org)
According to locals, there are three main arguments against the pipeline: Protection of the Ogallala aquifer and the Niobrara, Platte, and Verdigre watersheds, the proposed pipeline runs near or through the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations and follows the Ponca tribe Trail of Tears from Nebraska to Oklahoma, and the objection to the ability of a foreign company to claim eminent domain on US privately-owned farms and ranches.
The aquifer is a shallow water table that is one of the largest aquifers in the world. It underlies almost all of Nebraska and extends to South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico (approximately 175,000 square miles - 80% of the High Plains country). Over 80% of the 2,000,000 + residents in these areas rely on the aquifer for their water, and 30% of agricultural water likewise, comes from the aquifer. Agriculture has depleted about 9% of the aquifer water (which will only be fully replenished after 6,000 years) and some parts of the aquifer are already empty. (http://co.water.usgs.gov/nawqa/hpgw/HPGW_home.html)
As has been repeatedly demonstrated, oil companies do not have a viable plan for cleaning up oil spills. While they have invested millions in the development of systems for extracting oil, little attention has been given to clean up and restoration of the affected land, water, wetlands, and industry. The only characteristic of oil that makes clean up possible is that crude oil and water do not mix, so with great effort some of the spillage can be reduced. Nevertheless, the quality of the water and land are compromised, and the long term effects on wildlife habitation and the fishing industry have yet to be fully understood. (Wikipedia has a long list of US oil spills (with references), so you can follow up on the after affects of spills (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_spills) (A search of "oil spills" will also provide information on the consequences).
Tarsands present more difficult problems. Approximately two tons of tarsands make one barrel of oil, and each barrel requires several barrels of water to process. Tarsands do not float, they sink and mix with the water. Four years after the tarsand spill on the Kalamazoo River (which inundated 40 miles of river), the bottom of the river still contains globules of sticky tar sands. Vegetation on the riverbanks, likewise, still show the effects of the spill. 150 families lost their homes. Even if they do eventually find an efficient way to clean up the tar sands, it will be impossible to clean up all of it because it will absorb so quickly into the land and water. In remote areas, the spill could go unnoticed for weeks or months. (http://www.nwf.org/What-We-Do/Energy-and-Climate/Drilling-and-Mining/Tar-Sands/Michigan-Oil-Spill.aspx) (http://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/Media-Center/NWF-in-the-News/2011/06-08-11-Keystone-XL-concerns-raised.aspx) (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/13/senate-bills-keystone_n_4960071.html)
In 1877, the Ponca tribe of northern Nebraska was forced to leave their beautiful home on the banks of the Missouri River and walk to Oklahoma. Most of the tribe made the long trek, a few stayed behind. The route of this journey has special historical and emotional significance to the Ponca people. Part of the pipeline follows the path of that migration.
Indigenous Environmental Network Executive Director Tom Goldtooth charged that Transcanada “has not adequately reported the environmental, social, and cultural impacts from the framework of an environmental justice analysis.” (http://www.indianz.com/News/2013/008923.asp)
Governor Heineman of Nebraska approved the ability of Transcanada to claim eminent domain on the farms and ranches in the path of the pipeline. Transcanada offered them money to use their property, however the ranchers and farmers would be responsible for most of the clean up should a spill occur. The pipeline will have long term effects on their land use and the potential loss of crops and livestock should tar sands leak.
Furthermore, they argue that a company, especially a foreign company, should not have the right to claim eminent domain for their private gain on land owned by Americans.
Transcanada and proponents of the pipeline argue that the pipeline will create jobs. That is only partially true. While the building of the pipeline will require many people, maintenance will only provide a small number of jobs. Transcanada got most of the steel on the Keystone 1 pipeline from India. Most of the steel for KXL will come from India and Canada. The pipe is only coated in the US, it is not made in the US. KXL is an export pipeline headed to a refinery in Saudi Arabia. (http://tarsandsaction.org/keystone-xl-facts/)
There are townspeople along the pipeline who are thrilled at the prospect of new business while workers are building the pipeline, but that business will be short lived, as the number of laborers will be from elsewhere and will be there for less than a year. Just as important, this influx of temporary workers will change forever the integrity of the small communities that will be affected.
The increase in oil production will damage the environment, reduce the amount of land available for farming and ranching, and it has not, nor will, lower the price of gas. Because the transport, by any means, is dangerous to our rivers, watersheds, the aquifer, farmland, and the extraction also affects air quality, the opposition to the pipeline wants the United States to focus on clean, renewable energy sources. That will create new jobs, and ensure our energy independence.
Please support the effort to envision a future in which our daily activities take place in a sustainable relationship with our water, land, air, and wildlife.