Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s recent statements about Keystone XL display a blatant disregard for the facts about the Keystone XL pipeline and tar sands oil. In Montana the pipeline would cross significant portions of the Missouri and Yellowstone River drainages, posing an unacceptable risk to our communities, fisheries and agriculture. The risks of expanding this tar sands project is not in the best interest of Montana or our future quality of life.
Tar sands oil is destructive to extract, results in higher greenhouse gas emissions and must be strip-mined from Canada’s Boreal Forest. Pumping this oil across the U.S. to export refineries on the Gulf of Mexico is precarious at best, posing even greater risks than pipelines carrying conventional petroleum. To keep the thick, tarry substance flowing these pipelines use higher pressure, higher temperatures and chemicals, which make these pipelines more prone to ruptures and catastrophic spills. The first Keystone pipeline experienced some 30 leaks and 11 spills in its first year alone, including the 1.1 million gallons spilled into the Kalamazoo River.
The U.S. cannot reduce its vulnerability to oil price shocks or dependence on conflict-oil by pumping Canadian oil to export terminals in the Gulf. The answer lies in cleaner choices for our transportation needs – not construction of a pipeline that would only deepen the addiction many people are trying to break.
Ultimately this is a choice between a clean energy future and contributing to the proliferation of wealth for global oil corporations. Schweitzer and Montana could become leaders in clean energy projects thereby reducing our dependence on oil. It is time all of us said no to tar sands development and yes to a cleaner energy future.
Jennifer Ryan, Stevensville
John Wolverton, Missoula
Paul Edwards, Helena
Lindsey Myers, Helmville