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  1. I really hope that one day when a human sees an oil tank will decide not to burn it, I hope that will choose to leave it. Unfortunately a lot of people still want to burn oil and to use it, ignoring the environment. In these days one of the hot topics is Keystone pipeline which is, according to my opinion, useless, expensive and polluting.There's no need to tell why a pipeline is polluting. The endless spills talk for themselves. Useless for the creation of a better energy system built on clean energy. Useful for the generation of electricity but the price is too high. Talking about prices and numbers: - "A cost of $7 billion putting 20,000 US workers to work." says the CEO of TransCanada, the company that should build the pipeline. - Different studies confirmed that the pipeline would create only 2,000 temporary jobs. - President Obama stated "The most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two, and then after that we're talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in an economy of 150 million working people." One of the argument that supports Keystone is that the current way to transport oil (rails) is unsafe. True fact, although pipeline isn't so safer and I think that the best way to avoid these tragedies is not transport oil, not use it.
  2. The Keystone pipeline proposal has hit a Nebraska stop sign, but it has deeper problems than right-of-way issues across the United States. After all, the controversial proposal for transporting Canada's tar sands was never just about the pipeline. Just ask the thousand students who rallied in front of the White House recently and were willing to be arrested to make their point. Frustrated and angry over a lack of political action on climate change, our Millennial Generation is not tolerating an ineffectual Congress or president. This 18-34 year old group in the United States is 74 million strong and when the worst happens will suffer the most from climate change. With little representation in Congress, where the average age is 60, they are looking to civil disobedience as a strategy to create the political will to address this threat. This will happen not only in our nation's capitol but on the streets of major cities across the nation. The fight over Keystone is really about a generational shift in our energy paradigm and how we will survive the 21st century. It concerns the wealth and jobs that the fossil fuels industry creates, how it has weaved itself into all of our lives and pulled us into a formidable dependency. With a growing foreboding, however, we are sensing our carbon lifestyle may be lethal to future generations and if they are to survive it is incumbent on us to accelerate efforts to develop other energy sources. From Washington, D.C. and Nebraska courts, this conflict now swings to Canada, where the Alberta government owns 81 percent of its oil sands and has a long list of investment partners. Besides multinational corporations, one of its biggest sources of investment capital for mining is China, our planet's largest producer of greenhouse gases. Alberta looks to collect $1.2 trillion in royalties from its oil sands over the next 35 years, but has increasingly drawn the world's attention because of the massive girth of pollution from the mining and burning of bitumen tar. Canada also faces a disenfranchised youth, who feel their voices and futures have been diminished by the enormous profits bitumen tar sands portend. They are joined by First Nations aboriginal tribes who share the same political paucity and frustration. Despite the economic benefits of bitumen tar mining on their lands, First Nations people are taking a grim view of irreversible health and cultural damage. It is a seminal decision for First Nations to continue its relationship with Canadian oil interests and on a larger scale, analogous with our world's factious accord on reducing the role of fossil fuels in our lives. The world's climate scientists essentially agree that if left unchecked, anthropogenic CO2 will worsen extreme weather, raise sea levels and create mass extinctions from a profuse array of environmental changes. Many acknowledge that climate deniers are fed propagated ignorance by fossil fuel strategists as part of a misinformation campaign, creating a set of beliefs not easily changed. It creates a polarized electorate, leaving the issue to develop worst-case scenarios before action is taken. In moderation, fossil fuel usage might not have posed a serious threat, but we have moved well past that threshold. Our burning of fossil fuels produces around 33.4 billion metric tons of CO2 per year and world energy needs are expected to rise about 40 percent over the next 20 years. CO2 has reached proportions in our atmosphere not seen for about 15 million years and many scientists warn it may already be too late to mitigate damages. There is a way forward. In time, renewables can generate jobs lost in the fossil fuels industry and will sustain our lifestyles. We can consider Generation IV nuclear energy, reportedly much safer than existing technology. Some strategists look to a carbon fee and dividend system that can increase the viability of new renewable energy sources, as well as a carbon import tax on products from other countries. As Keystone falters and tar sands mining provokes mounting protests, our nation is compelled to end political bickering and accede Millennials a more powerful voice on climate legislation. President Obama must grasp the significance of this moment, deny the Keystone permit and tell the world his decision has nothing to do with the pipeline and everything to do with leadership. This opinion piece was written by Jeffrey Meyer, a writer and volunteer for and Citizens Climate Lobby.
  3. In the past few years, in the area between the States of Colorado, North and South Dakota and Wyoming, there was a peak of extraction and production of oil and gas. The lack of pipelines and energy infrastructures led to an increase of rail use to transport crude oil to the refineries, from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to 400,000 this year. Today 10% of total crude oil production is shipped by rail. But a series of accidents (like Quebec, North Dakota or Alabama, where 47 people died) which killed dozens of people led to many questions about the regulation on these shipments. Here’s now an interesting data: the quantity of oil spilled in these accidents in the past year is bigger than the one spilled from 1975 to 2012. The rapidly growth of oil sector in this part of the country should have brought to the construction of more pipelines but it’s a way that takes time so the decision was to converge on railways. Before the explanation of the recent events we have to ask ourselves: what are the main causes of this increase of rail which brought to these terrible accidents? One of the causes is the lack of pipelines but it isn’t the only one. There’s also a lack of controls on the security standards of the sector. Unfortunately we’ve seen before that the absence of controls can bring to several damages. Safety officials have warned that cars which transport oil were unsuited to carry flammable cargo. As always money role is primary and in this case also vital for the people who were involved in the accident and this is unacceptable. These accidents should have changed the situation and a political and economic debate opened. On the other side of this story we can find Keystone XL, a pipeline system to transport crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast. From one side Keystone is the alternative to rail in oil transport sector and from another Keystone is a dangerous project from the environment point and useless from the economic point. President Obama wasn’t convinced by the project but now, after these rail accidents, his opinion might change. Still, pipelines aren’t safe for the environment: just a few months ago, an Exxon pipeline leaked 840,000 gallons of crude into a residential area in Arkansas. Pipelines spilled more often than rail but the number of victims is higher regarding rail. Environmentalists are opposing to both: rail are the perfect example of how oil transport is dangerous for people and for the environment but Keystone has been criticized for its environmental impact. None of the two projects are a good idea but the best thing should be an improvement of sector standards and better controls of rail which involve a cost but it’s nothing compared to those people who died because of the lack of controls. I hope that soon people’s life and safety will be more important than convenience and money. It's time for this aggresive market to find safer ways to transport oil. References: NY Times, BusinessWeek. Photo: Cars on an oil train in Casselton. Photo from NY Times.