The different barriers to the construction of Keystone XL Pipeline

The Keystone Pipeline is an oil pipeline system, which belonged to the Transcanada Company. It crosses Canada and the United States on 2.147 miles and sends 860,000 barrels per day. It started on 2008 and was done on several steps. Today, the politicians and environmentalists quarrel its extension.

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A construction on different steps

Its construction was done in 3 parts: Firstly, it connected Hardisty city, Steele City and Patoka/Wood River. Next, it was completed by an extension between Steele City to storage and distribution facilities of Cushing. The phase 3 is separated in two steps: On the one hand, a continuation of this pipeline to Cushing from Port Arthur and on the other hand, a prolongation as far as Houston.

On 2008, Transcada proposed to extend the building of existing pipeline: It consists on reducing the existing route and permitting this new passing to Baker city which contains crude reserves. Indeed, this company aimed at accessing refineries industries and ports at the Gulf Coast in order to increase its production and benefit export market. This project could cost 5.3 billion dollars and would have the capacity of 830 000 barrels per day.

The dirtiest fuel production

Alberta State began oil sand exploitation on 1960 because scientists found a way to separate tarry substance from sand. Today, the production of this fuel is very important but it causes damages: The industries have to destroy the Boreal forest and the traditional drilling needs a lot of water, heat and chemical products. Then, the bitumen is injected in the pipeline and the water mixed with toxics substances is placed on trailing bonds. Furthermore, these special pools are not waterproof and these toxic leaks discharged in Athabasca River. The village of Fort Chipewyan situated next to these has been touched by this contamination in 2010: It lost 100 people from 1200 residents, dead from cancer.

Its transit to refineries industries of the Gulf Coast involves environmental risks: This first operational year provoked a dozen time spillage. We can evocate environmental catastrophes like the spillage of tar sand oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan because of the Enbridge Company on 2010. The firm spent one billion dollar in order to clean up the river during 3 years but it’s still contaminated. On April 2013, a massive oil sand quantity was poured under the residential neighbourhoods of Mayflower.

This oil sand production had carbon levels 3 or 4 times higher than conventional oil. It’s a risk for smog, acid rain or the appearance of respiratory disease.

Popular contestations


On November 2011, in reaction of spillage into the Kalamazoo River, 10 000 citizens protested against this extension in front of the White House. This opposition permitted to State Department of US to order the itinerary change because Sandhills wet land could be threatened by oil spill. On January 2012, the president Obama rejected the project in view of oil sand spillage and required ecological study. Finally, Transcada Company modified its plans and foresee the construction only on US territory.

On February 2013, 30 000 citizens responded to the appeal of Sierra Club and collected to the National Mall in order to denounce the approval of Nebraska Governor, Dave Heinman to the new pathway of this pipeline.
The President Obama bears political pressure to Republicans and the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, attempted to convince him taking a decision during Mexico Summit. Without success, the politicians try to elaborate a strategy for accelerating the extension of this pipeline.

Political pressures and President’s veto power

On November 2014, the House of Representatives voted a bill concerning the approval of pipeline’s construction. Moreover, it has been refused by the Senate because of the democrats‘opposition. At the end of January, The Senate had new members’ elections who accepted it. After Senate ‘amendments, this bill has been agreed by the Congress but Obama used his veto power. Furthermore, this president opposition will be questioned if the Congress manages to collect two-third of the votes.


The Republicans and S.Harper aimed to accelerate the decision process because this project could create 40 000 jobs whereas it will insure only 35 permanent employments. According to the study of Nature Climate change, this project could increase of 110 million carbon emissions per year.

The president Obama emitted reserves to this project because he wants to ensure that it won’t increase carbon impacts. Indeed, he wants to stay credible toward his commitments against the global warming. Fossil Fuels exploitation must foster gains but we have to take account negatives effects of this oil sand activities on the environment and health people.


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