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Tue Apr 2, 2013, 08:24 AM


Seven things you learn driving the length of the Keystone XL pipeline

We’ve heard a lot about the Keystone pipeline these past few years — which, if approved, would carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta down to refineries in the Gulf Coast. Supporters say the pipeline will improve U.S. energy security. Environmentalists say the tar sands will prove disastrous for global warming.

That debate can get a bit abstract at times. And so, to make things more concrete, my colleague Steven Mufson decided to take a road trip last summer down the length of the proposed Keystone route, from Alberta to Texas.

He’s written the whole trip up in an excellent new e-book “Keystone XL: Down The Line.” The book is a fairly quick read and really offers a fascinatingly detailed look at many of the issues raised by the pipeline. It’s highly recommended for anyone interested in energy and environmental topics.

Here are seven interesting things about the Keystone XL pipeline I came across in the book — though keep in mind there’s a lot more in there:


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Reply Seven things you learn driving the length of the Keystone XL pipeline (Original post)
nonoyes Apr 2013 OP
KoKo Apr 2013 #1
nonoyes Apr 2013 #2
AverageJoe90 Apr 2013 #3

Response to nonoyes (Original post)

Tue Apr 2, 2013, 11:58 AM

1. 2)"Tailings Ponds that pose a danger to birds.."

(The whole article is worth a read. This is a disaster waiting. And, if anyone believes these companies will do the "up keep" and keep the "bird alerts" going after that pipeline is finished...they don't know the history of these Oil Companies.)


2) In Alberta, the process of mining tar sands for oil has produced huge “tailings” ponds that pose a danger to birds. Oil companies have pursued novel ways to scare away waterfowl while they develop new underground “in situ” drilling techniques that don’t produce such ponds:

As of 2010, the black tailings ponds covered an area equal to 68 square miles, according to Alberta government figures. That’s bigger than the District of Columbia, at 61 square miles.

Though the amount of leftover oil in the ponds is small, it floats to the surface, posing a menace to any bird foolish enough to splash down. In 2006, 1,600 ducks and other waterfowl died after landing on a tailings pond owned by one company, Syncrude. A week after the company was fined nearly $3 million for those deaths, 230 ducks were euthanized after landing on another pond. Shell uses radar to detect incoming birds. It triggers a signal to floating platforms with fake predator birds to sound fake predator calls, as well as fire cannons to frighten the real birds away.

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Response to KoKo (Reply #1)

Tue Apr 2, 2013, 01:34 PM

2. Yes it's really frightening how many millions of birds


who are migratory can be killed off each year this way.

Just frightening that Canada allowed this to go ahead.

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Response to nonoyes (Original post)

Tue Apr 2, 2013, 03:27 PM

3. In a sea of seemingly ubiquitous hysteria, this is a godsend.


Last edited Tue Apr 2, 2013, 05:45 PM - Edit history (1)

This article lays out plenty of valid reasons why people oppose the Keystone XL project. None of this "we're going to die" bullshit or anything. Just cold, hard facts.

A sincere thank you to Steven Mufson and Brad Plumer.

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