Once operational, the 875-mile Keystone Pipeline expected to carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil every day from Canada’s Alberta Tar Sand reserves to refineries near Houston, will impact the environment badly. The changes will lead to:
- Warmer winter temperature.
- Short time of cool season.
- Longer period of frost season.
- An increase in soil contraction and expansion.
- Warm and longer summers which could result in heat stress and risk wildlife.
Construction of the Keystone Pipeline will further affect:
WATER RESOURCES: The pipeline will pass through about 1,073 surface water bodies in addition to 56 perennial rivers and streams and 24 miles of floodplains. The proposed plan could lead in temporary and permanent result like:
- Sedimentation of streams.
- Temporary drop in stream flow.
- Possibility of dangerous material spill.
- Permanent loss of wetlands due to filling of project facilities.
WILDLIFE AND ENDANGERED SPECIES: The construction could lead to habitat loss, changes, and disintegration; less success in breeding due increased human activity; fewer chances of survival because of less accessibility to edible plants, and increase in predation like nest parasitism, poaching. The proposed route crossing streams and rivers can lead to siltation, sedimentation, thus affecting the aquatic animals and plants. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report says 14 federally protected species, 11 endangered species, could be affected. The endangered American buying beetle is likely to be the only species to be most affected. Other species could be Whooping Cranes, Greater Sage-Grouse, and Western Prairie Fringed Orchids.
SOIL EROSION: Construction of the pipeline means clearing the land which can lead to landslides and erosion.
VEGETATION: The proposed project could impact the cultivated crops (approx. 4,975 acres), grasslands, forest, herbaceous wetlands, shrub scrub communities.
OIL SPILL: Climate change can have an effect on the spill which could increase during rainfall and flood. The possible result from a large oil spill will be similar to a medium-size spill but on a much greater scale. Oil spill on a larger surface area can penetrate the soils which will flow through topographic gradients like gullies, drains near the roadside, ditches, storm sewers, etc. It could also impact groundwater where the overlying soils are porous and/ or the depth is shallow.
AIR POLLUTION: Dust from construction could impact air quality. It will lead to temporary loud noise.
According to a report by the U.N., carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere is the highest so far. And creating an opportunity to dig out more oil and ship it down will only worsen the problem. Therefore, organizations like Greenpeace and 350.org are protesting against the Keystone Pipeline construction.