Last year, I wrote an op-ed about the EC trip to DC to protest the Keystone XL pipeline. I took issue with the trip, not the protest. To protest something that would provide our country with more oil, we were using a significant amount of it.
To protest a project that could potentially increase greenhouse gases significantly, we were making our own extensive contribution by driving more than a dozen 15-passenger vans and chartered buses. I even calculated all these figures using MPG and CO2 estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
It all just seemed a bit too hypocritical for me. But then, Obama rejected the permits and it felt great to know that Eckerd had contributed to an important cause, so I accepted that the means justified the end.
However, upon hearing that another road trip was being planned for the upcoming protest, I wanted to gather up my friends and protest the protest. Don’t get me wrong. I recycle, I ride my bike to school and the grocery store instead of driving and I believe in global warming, but I also do my research before planning a trip that seems to hurt the cause I’m fighting against.
First of all, the Keystone pipeline already exists. It is a 2,149-mile line, owned and operated by TransCanada. It then transports crude oil from the Alberta Tar Sands in Hardisty, across the Canadian-American border, down to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma. The Keystone XL pipeline would add 1,700 miles of new pipe to connect the backed-up refineries in Cushing, Okla. to refineries on the gulf coast of Texas. The pipeline would also connect Alberta to Steele City, Neb.
Jan. 18, President Obama formally rejected the permit to build the pipeline connecting Hardisty to Steele City for environmental reasons. The proposed route had the pipeline crossing over important aquifers that were threatened by leaks. Obama said that TransCanada could reapply for the permits after finding an alternate route through Nebraska.
Obama’s endorsement for starting construction on the southern half of the pipeline, connecting Oklahoma and Texas, and a new route that’s been approved by the Nebraskan governor are signs that this pipeline extension is going to happen.
It’s sad, but we need to accept that we live in a gas-guzzling culture. The State Department estimates that the pipeline construction could create as many as 6,000 jobs, and that’s not including the jobs that would be created to maintain the lines and increase production in the refining process
If Obama rejects the permits again, Canada is already making plans for alternative options. TransCanada’s competition, Enbridge, is already developing a project to move the oil in Alberta to the Pacific Coast, where it can then be shipped overseas for refinement in China.
Whether or not we are the ones refining this oil, it will eventually hit the market. Now, President Obama is delaying his decision until he can find a way to please the environmentalists and help boost the economy.
Regardless of all of this, some environmentalists are still against the pipeline expansion. That’s their right and though I disagree, I understand their cause.
What I don’t understand is Eckerd’s cause. As of press time, transporting the approximate up to 115 students who have signed up (versus the 250 people that attended last year), the school is renting ten buses, running at about $700 each. That’s $7,000 right there.
Where is the money coming from? The trip is asking for donations from a variety of sources, including student clubs. In my opinion, every club was budgeted money by ECOS to be used for club-related activities, not donated at will to unrelated causes that were not included in their original budgets.
An organizer of the trip commented on the ethics used to make the decision to protest the pipeline again. “We should practice what we preach, [especially when] all the opportunities are there for us.” Doesn’t this mean we should be reducing our CO2 as much as possible by not making long road trips in gas guzzling vehicles, and taking advantage of the power of the Internet and social media to make our voices heard?