Guest commentary: Is pipeline worth it?
By: From Katya and Mark Gordon, Two Harbors, Lake County News Chronicle
While many readers have surely heard of the Keystone Pipeline idea — a pipeline that would run from the tar sands oil fields of northwestern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico — fewer people may be aware that yet another, even larger, pipeline is being planned. It’s called the “Alberta Clipper” and if it comes into being, it will run just south of Duluth, through hundreds of small and large farms as well as small towns. This pipeline would potentially enable Enbridge, Inc., to begin shipping oil out through Duluth into the Great Lakes.
In June, President Obama stated: “...our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” A recent NRDC (National Resource Defense Council) report points out that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would add 935 million to 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon pollution to our atmosphere — a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions over the 50-year life span of the project.
Would the Keystone pipeline create jobs in our economy? There is a growing consensus that this project will create around 2,000 jobs — mostly in the form of 20-week construction contracts — during its construction, and perhaps 50-100 jobs afterwards. Would we rather be building our economy with people who are growing our food, or people who are maintaining a pipeline and cleaning up oil spills through ruined farming country?
Do oil spills really happen? Enbridge recently disclosed their record of oil spills — 56 spills in the last five years on its midwest pipeline system, according to a story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. One of the biggest occurred in July 2010. The rupture of a pipeline in Michigan released approximately 800,000 gallons of crude oil, much of it into the Kalamazoo River. Tar sands oil is more difficult to clean up from a water spill than regular crude oil; we can only imagine the devastating effects an oil spill could have on Lake Superior.
Here’s the bottom line: The fossil fuel industry thinks that massive oil-moving pipelines are a great idea, and will go to great lengths to convince us that it is in our best interest to continue to pump oil from our soil, despite clear and dramatic evidence of growing climate change due to carbon emissions.
But hundreds of thousands of citizens around the world feel differently, and are making their opinions heard. Saturday is national “Draw the Line” day in the U.S. — a day to mark on your calendar if you are unconvinced that massive pipelines will benefit ordinary citizens such as yourself and your families. All around the country citizens are organizing “draw the line” events — photographed, organized rallies that will send our leaders the clear message that we are not interested in sacrificing our land, water, and soil to line the pockets of the fossil fuel industry.
The North Shore is not going to be left behind. We are the stewards of Lake Superior. Come to our own “Draw the Line” demonstration at the Two Harbors breakwall on Friday, Sept. 20, at 5 p.m. Bring posters, banners, or just your voice and your passion. We will photograph our group against our beloved lake. Our numbers will be recorded and our message communicated to our leaders. If the Keystone pipeline is stopped, the Alberta Clipper stands much less chance of surviving.
For more information, go to www.350.org or contact Katya or Mark Gordon at (218) 834-2432.
Katya and Mark Gordon are local activists and owners of Amicus Adventure Sailing, a charter sailing business that has taken them all around Lake Superior.