Robert Redford today released a video on the New York Times website asking the president to say "no" to the Keystone XL pipeline. During the video, he spoke of the risks of tar sands oil and how it can negatively impact the environment and the lives of those people who depend on the resources the pipeline could destroy.
This is one of the very few issues that has been able to draw support from people on both sides of the political spectrum, from ordinary folks in East Texas to ranchers in Montana. Redford supplemented the video with a vignette of photos, maps, and graphs to get his point across, and that point is that tar sands oil is much too risky and environmentally devastating to even consider. Tar sands oil is exactly as it sounds: tar mixed in with sand, which creates an extremely abrasive substance. The force with which the pipeline will push this gooey substance through will be higher than normal pipelines, creating more opportunity for disaster. As Redford stated, it's "the dirtiest oil on the planet."
The fact that Hilary Clinton is supportive of this has to raise a few eyebrows, and why is President Obama even taking this issue into consideration? The United States presumably has enough oil to last for years, so why does the government seem so hot to bring this nasty goo thousands of miles south from Canada? Who is paying off whom in this matter? Who will stand to benefit the most? It certainly won't be American citizens, that's for sure.
The pipeline will cross one of the largest natural aquifers on the North American continent: the Ogallala Aquifer. This fresh water reserve provides clean water for millions of people from Nebraska to Texas, and yet TransCanada wants to put the pipeline directly over it. This is a blatant disregard for the health and well-being of American citizens, and it absolutely must be addressed. If the pipes break and the water's contaminated, it could spell disaster for humans, animals, and the Earth itself.
It's interesting to see just who is in favor of this pipeline, one of whom is Matt Koch. Koch is Vice President for Oil Sands and Arctic Issues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy. That's an oxymoron if ever there was one because oil is certainly not a 21st century energyÂ—at least, it shouldn't be. Koch's big job is to pretty up the description of tar sands oil to make it seem acceptable to the masses. Only this time, it's not working.
Earth's CO2 levels have been climbing steadily since 1958. In 1958, the carbon levels in the atmosphere were about 315 parts per million. The safety limit for carbon is 350 ppm, but the level has been over that since 1979 and has only been climbing. Today, it stands at 389 ppm. Eventually, our atmosphere will be so unsafe that there will be no clean air left to breathe. The amount of pollution and CO2 refining this oil would only serve to perpetuate ongoing climate change. There will come a point at which humans will be unable to reverse the effects of pollution, too, and that time is coming sooner than you think. The cost to the environment versus the number of jobs the pipeline would create is simply not worth it.
Kudos to you, Robert Redford, for standing up for an issue that has not gotten enough media attention. Stop the Keystone XL pipeline. There are only a couple of months left before the president makes a decision.
Â©2011 Reno Berkeley for Gather News.