Letter: XL Pipeline A Risky Venture

The Keystone XL Pipeline presents us with choices that bridge our self-interests and the special interests of our country.

If it were just the fact that the XL Pipeline would allow us to be energy independent and free us from OPEC, reducing our involvement in Middle East civil wars, it would be attractive and tempting. However, the problem is more complex than allowing special interests to build a pipeline at our expense that would make us just not independent, but a new version of the Middle East. The purpose of the pipeline is not to make us just energy independent, but in a position to compete with OPEC in the world market.

This could be done without disturbing gas prices at home and would not affect gas prices at the pump.

The unfortunate downside to this brilliant concept is, the many-fold risks to eight of our western states through which the XL Pipeline must traverse, which makes it all too real to ranchers and farmers.

The XL Pipeline must traverse this region underground though the largest body of underground fresh water, larger than the water found in all the Great Lakes combined.

Cattle, sent north from Texas to graze, depend on fresh water and grain to fatten them up for market in states like Kansas and Nebraska, and it is a safe assumption that those eight states supply, in one way or another, food for much of the rest of the country.

The argument against the XL Pipeline is fueled by the fact that oil pipelines leak over time and our ability to control such leaks are not evident, and our ability to clean up an oil pipeline leak underground would be almost impossible. I would remind everyone that the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico remains unresolved.

Such a leak would be of monumental proportions and not only affect farmers and ranchers in these eighth states, but may permanently ruin many thousands of acres.

Historically, it can be stated that the question of oil pipeline leaks are not “if” but only a question of “when.” It is my opinion, that given this probable scenario, the risks outweigh the benefits.

Richard Nielsen, Royal Palm Beach