Debating a Pipeline

Environmentalists suffered a setback recently when Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman approved the passing of the Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska–putting the controversial pipeline from Alberta to Texas a State Department signature away from approval. But with President Obama’s recent commitment to curbing global warming in his inaugural speech, evironmentalists have not lost hope. It’s thought that a final decision will be reached in spring–until then, demonstrations agains the pipeline and the increased production of tar sands oil are heating up.

Tar sands oil is one of the dirtiest forms of fuel on the planet. There are about 170 billion barrels of oil in Canada’s tar sands, and if all of it were burned it would increase global temperatures by .4 degrees Celcius. According to an article in Scientific American: “As it stands, the oil sands industry has greenhouse gas emissions greater than New Zealand and Kenya—combined. If all the bitumen in those sands could be burned, another 240 billion metric tons of carbon would be added to the atmosphere and, even if just the oil sands recoverable with today’s technology get burned, 22 billion metric tons of carbon would reach the sky.”

Up north, another battle over a tar sands pipeline is taking place over Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would carry the tar sands oil from Edmonton, Alberta to a new marine terminal in Kitimat, British Columbia. In this video, filmed January 20, 2013 at Cambridge House International’s Vancouver Resource Investment conference, Greenpeace co-founder Rex Weyler and Casey Research’s Chief Energy Investment Strategist Marin Katusa engage in a balanced debate over the economic benefits and major environmental downsides of exploiting the carbon-intensive tar sands.