Pollution

Keystone XL Pipeline: Debunking Some Myths

Keystone XL pipes in 2009. Image via Wiki Commons http://bit.ly/wetrWI

Pipes for the Keystone XL Pipeline in 2009. Image via Wiki Commons http://bit.ly/wetrWI

The building of a 1,700-mile pipeline through the heartland of the United States has been at the center of the debate on the economy for many months now. Much has been written by those who both support and oppose its construction. And much has also been written about just how important the pipeline would be to the U.S. economy if it were actually to be built.

With the deadline for the Obama administration’s decision on construction coming up fast (2/21), many have already made up their minds. But have they done so on the basis of accurate figures?

It might be pretty difficult to do so, given that various estimates put the number of jobs created though the construction of the pipeline at anywhere between 20 and 350,000. So where have all these different estimates come from, and which one (if any) is actually accurate?

The first difficulty that arises from trying to find an accurate estimate is that most of the numbers from the upper echelons of the estimates come from the company who are hoping to build the pipeline: TransCanada.

EPA’s New Mercury and Air Toxics Standards = Breath of Fresh Air

Fisk Generating Station in Chicago. Image via Wylio http://bit.ly/uc2Axj

Fisk Generating Station in Chicago. Image via Wylio http://bit.ly/uc2Axj

After years of opposition from coal industry lobbyists, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued the first national standards for mercury and air toxin pollution.

The standards will slash emissions of these dangerous pollutants by relying on widely available, proven pollution controls that are already in use at more than half of the nation’s coal-fired power plants.

The EPA estimates that the new safeguards will prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks each year. The standards also will help America’s children grow up healthier — preventing 130,000 cases of childhood asthma and about 6,300 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year.

Western Canada Tar Sand Pipeline Decision Delayed Until Late 2013

While citizens across the United States have been demanding President Obama deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, Canadians and First Nations folks have been organizing as well.

One question I’ve been asked repeatedly during the Tar Sands organizing is: “If we stop the mining and oil company from building a pipeline from Alberta to Texas, won’t they just a build one from Alberta to the Pacific and ship the oil to China?”

The companies were only too happy to have us buy their logic. But the truth was that our job in the U.S. was to keep the pipeline out of our backyard, and trust that the Canadian movement would do the same. Well, it turns out they have. First Nations folks pledged to block construction with their bodies and widespread public concern has forced the Harper government to review environmental concerns.

November 6: More Than Just the Climate Movement?

BEEEEEE
This Sunday (11/6), is precisely one year from the 2012 General Election where the next U.S. President will be elected, and to mark the date, thousands of people from across the country plan to gather at the White House.

But we're not gathering to celebrate, have a sit-in, or even march in protest. Instead, we plan to surround the White House -- literally -- in a Circle of Hope that could be as large as a mile or more in circumference.

From our Circle of Hope we will call upon President Obama to reject the dirty-oil, Keystone XL pipeline Big Oil wants to build from the Canadian tar sands in the Alberta province 6,000 miles south -- straight through the American Heartland -- to the oil refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Nestling for the Planet

The April issue of Sojourners magazine takes on climate change denial. One challenge is that the truth is hard to face -- but, as scientist Sasha Adkins describes from personal experience, one strategy is to draw inspiration from the comforts of home.

The question that I am most often asked when I talk about my Ph.D. research on the impacts of pollution has nothing to do with my methodology or my data. It is, "How do you live with this knowledge? Where do you find your hope?" It's a good question. My research results on the impact of plastics on human health and the environment are often quite demoralizing to hear. More than once when I am presenting them, an audience member has literally started to cry.

I took a year off from my environmental studies program to search for the answer to that very question, to find hope -- but this time, instead of turning to peer-reviewed journals for answers, I turned to my cats. I asked them if they would be willing to try living without fossil-fuel heat for the winter.

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