Throughout time, human concern for animal welfare has been trumped by the quest for energy sources. As a species, we have wantonly stripped away rainforests, drilled in our water supply, and purged resources found in protected animal conservation areas, eradicating countless species along the way. In 2011, Canada and America are once again playing the energy trump card. However, this time they are putting America’s farms directly in harms way.
The U.S. State Department and TransCanada Corporation want to assure American citizens that there is no reason for concern over the expansions to the Keystone pipeline and further extraction from Canada’s Tar Sand regions. These assurances may well carry the weight of air when all the facts are considered.
Let us start with the always overlooked and never talked about fact of shortsighted thinking. The infinitesimal amount of fossil fuel present took the Earth 650 million years to produce. To produce the same amount of fossil fuel without further depleting the resources will take the lifespan of over 8 million human generations.
According to James Hansen, a prominent Climatologist for NASA, if Canada’s Keystone pipeline expansions are allowed that "it is essentially game over" for the climate. The increased extraction and refinement of the Tar Sands for fuel will further heat up the Arctic region, rendering the concern for its replenishment inert as the habitat on the planet will no longer be conducive to supporting animal and human life. James Hansen believed in his findings so fervently that he participated in a White House sit-in protest that lasted from August 20 to September 3, 2011. He and 1,251 other people were arrested for their efforts.
The expansions to the Keystone pipeline are estimated to cost America 8 billion dollars to build and are set to run through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. These states are where a majority of farm animals are raised. Five of the six affected states rear the highest amount of cattle in America, which is the country’s single largest agricultural industry. A spill in these regions would have an immediate impact on the soil and water resources needed to sustain the animals through America’s Heartland.
When the factors of a sharp economic downturn, heavy layoffs, sharp pay decreases, and cutting corners to save a buck are reviewed, it is unfathomable to believe that the American government will take the utmost of care to ensure no oil spills. When an oil spill happens the solution to rectify the problem is equally as dangerous to animal life as the oil spill itself. Penn State’s Agricultural Science Department has stated that toxins from oil spills and the chemicals used to “clean” them up can mix into the soil and ground water supplies to have longstanding direct impacts on wildlife, livestock, and humans.
The numbers do the talking. Review for yourself the facts of oil spills just within America. Here is the breakdown of what oil spills have cost America from 2001 - 2011.
- Verified Oil Spilled: 679,012 tons, which equals approximately 2,091,356,996 gallons
- Fines Levied Against The Oil Industry For Failure to Comply to Minimal Safety/Environmental Standards: $163,705,050
In America fines are handed out by the Occupational, Safety, and Health Department (OSHA), a department that has the authority to shutdown any facility that poses an immediate threat. There is not one instance in the past ten years where OSHA has shutdown any oil operation after it has failed an onsite inspection and that includes violations that have resulted in deaths.
Even though similar totals appear around the world there are many people who remain undeterred in their belief that there is a way to allow the planet and its inhabitants to thrive while practicing destructive behavior. The Canadian government has given the distinct impression, through their actions and statements, that fossil fuels are nearly infinite and completely harmless.
Here are some facts people should contemplate in regards to these pipeline expansions.
- The pipeline expansions create more jobs for Canadians not Americans. Americans will not see any new permanent jobs created from this proposal, as all of the plant operations for this endeavor are already under construction in Canada.
- Canada is intent on exploiting the finite fuel and intends to export the oil to China with or without America's assistance.
- There is no apparent regard for global ecological stability, as Canada has not opened the subject up for debate.
- Canada is already the number one supplier of fossil fuel to America – not the Middle East.
- Canada has no concern that the pipeline expansion further encroaches on America’s farmlands.
- Canada is held harmless for any negative impacts from oil spilled that would affect America’s agriculture, wildlife, farm animals, and citizens.
- America stands to lose its most productive and profitable agricultural resource, cattle.
- Oil spills in the expansion states would bring hunger from lack of viable food supplies into the equation, more so than poverty.
- America assumes all of the risk to its land without any direct benefits to its constituency.
For those interested in making their voices heard please sign the Stop Tar Sand Production and Keystone Expansion Initiative.
Watch this documentary to learn more: A Crude Awakening - The Oil Crash