The controversial “Keystone XL pipeline bill” failed to pass on Tuesday after the U. S. Senate defeated the bill with 59 Yea and 41 Nay.
The bill, a measure introduced by the House of Representatives, needed a 60 vote count to pass. All 45 Republicans and 14 Democrats voted in favor but it was not enough for the bill to pass. In a recent speech President Barack Obama rejected the bill and it was believed that had the bill passed, he would had vetoed it.
The bill would have allowed TransCanada, A multibillion dollar oil corporation, to construct a US$8 billion dollar pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
Environmentalists and Native Americans were protesting the bill since it was first introduced to the House of Representatives and were outside the Senate when the announcement was made that the Keystone Vote failed.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was presiding over the Senate, and was asking the Senate to move to executive session was interrupted by one protester, who was later identified by the Washington Post as Greg Graycloud of the Lakota Tribe in South Dakota.
The Native American chant was heard throughout the floor and it was a symbol of celebration.
According to the environmentalist group, Friends of Earth, the construction of a pipeline would had been disastrous for our planet.
In an article on their website FOE.org the group listed some of the alarming reasons why this bill could have damaged the planet:
Dirty tar sands oil
Pollution from tar sands oil greatly eclipses that of conventional oil. During tar sands oil production alone, levels of carbon dioxide emissions are three to four times higher than those of conventional oil, due to more energy-intensive extraction and refining processes. The Keystone XL pipeline would have carried 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil into the United States daily, and resulted in climate-damaging emissions equal to adding more than 5.6 million new cars to U.S. roads.
Water waste and pollution
During the tar sands oil extraction process, vast amounts of heat, water and chemicals are needed to separate the tarry substance (known as bitumen) from sand, silt, and clay and to flow up the pipeline. The water used in the process comes from rivers and underground aquifers. It takes three barrels of water to extract each single barrel of oil. Ninety-five percent of the water used to extract the oil, which is about 2.4 million barrels per day, is so polluted that the water must be stored in large human-made pools, known as tailing ponds. As the heavy bitumen sinks to the bottom of these ponds, the toxic sludge, full of harmful substances like cyanide and ammonia, works its way into neighboring clean water supplies.
The tar sands oil are underneath the world’s largest intact ecosystem, the Boreal forests of Alberta. The forests not only serve as an important carbon sink, but its biodiversity and unspoiled bodies of water support large populations of many different species. They are a buffer against climate change, as well as food and water shortages. However, in the process of digging up tar sands oil, the forests are destroyed. This valuable forest and its endangered caribou are both threatened by the pipeline.
Northern Alberta, the region where tar sands oil is extracted, is home to many indigenous populations. Important parts of their cultural traditions and livelihood are coming under attack because of tar sands operations. Not only have indigenous communities been forced off of their land, but also those living downstream from tailing ponds have seen spikes in rates of rare cancers, renal failure, lupus, and hyperthyroidism. In the lakeside village of Fort Chipewyan, for example, 100 of the town’s 1,200 residents have died from cancer.
These problems will only get worse, unless tar sands production is halted. Investing in a new pipeline would increase the rate of production, while decreasing the quality of life for indigenous populations.
The Keystone XL pipeline would traverse six U.S. states and cross major rivers, including the Missouri River, Yellowstone, and Red Rivers, as well as key sources of drinking and agricultural water, such as the Ogallala Aquifer which supplies water to more than one fourth of America’s irrigated land and provides drinking water for two million Americans.
In the end, the celebration comes from the heart of those who believe the planet is in state of emergency, and the vote rejecting the Keystone pipeline gives environmentalist a new hope that our country is moving towards oil independence and a greener environment.