Every president wants to leave a favorable legacy behind, one that scores of future generations of Americans will look at with nostalgia and admiration. But if President Obama wishes this for himself, signing off on the Keystone XL pipeline is the worst way of showing it. As proposed, the Keystone XL pipeline would extend all the way from Alberta, Canada to Texas. That’s nearly 2,000 miles of pipeline!
But the large distance itself is not the core issue in the matter. What’s primarily at issue is the possibility for a leak, a break, or another catastrophe involving any portion of the pipeline. Situated over some of America’s most beloved and valued ecosystems and sources of drinking water, any such catastrophe could make BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico look like the best of all possible worlds.
It’s understandable that President Obama wants to appease particular elements within the business community, the electorate, and numerous other constituent groups by giving the “all clear” to construct the Keystone XL pipeline. But when American’s voted for change, many such as myself voted for a change in the way we deal with environmental and economic issues. When as many unknown variables enter the environmental equation as in the case of the Keystone XL pipeline, then a hold should be placed on whatever might cause human and environmental harm until the unknown variables are found and properly addressed.
If President Obama goes through with this pipeline, it will not be a question of if, but a question of when something catastrophic will occur regarding the XL pipeline. Maybe it will be a hundred years from now, or maybe ten, maybe in our lifetimes or maybe in the lifetimes of our children. But it will happen if the history of these ambitious utilities projects is any indicator for the future. Does President Obama really want that on his presidential record for posterity to judge him with?