Home > Uncategorized > Keystone XL Pipeline: Security for the Majority, Insecurity for the Minorities

Keystone XL Pipeline: Security for the Majority, Insecurity for the Minorities

                Among the many needs of humanity is energy, both now and for the future. The Keystone XL is a pipeline to transport tar sands from Canada to Texas, Nebraska, Illinois, and Oklahoma, helping to increase our energy security. In this continual scavenging for energy, the Keystone XL Pipeline negatively affects the minority populations, such as African Americans and Native Americans, with pollution and other hazards while leaving the majority population in better environmental conditions. The majority population is left with more security while the minority populations’ security diminishes.

                Throughout history the minority population has always battled injustice, such as the Semites in Egypt or the slaves in early America. Currently there is environmental injustice, when a population is disproportionately affected by environmental hazards. The Keystone XL Pipeline continues this trend in Port Arthur, Texas. Port Arthur is one of the endpoints for the pipeline, but also has a majority black population. The black population of Port Arthur already lives by chemical plants, refineries, and waste incinerators. Inclusion of the pipeline through Port Arthur would increase the negative environmental impacts that the black community faces. Port Arthur is not the only city with a minority population negatively affected by the Keystone XL pipeline. In Port Arthur is Carver Terrace, a set of housing units with a majority black community that drew environmental concern. Located in Carver Terrace is a large waste incinerator facility that generates over one hundred tons of air pollutants per day. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put the Port Arthur/Beaumont metropolitan area in the worst percentile of the United States for hazardous air pollutants. Released toxins from the piped tar sands would create even more environmental hazards in the area, affecting mainly the minority population.

                A similar case appears in the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, where the Lakota and Sioux Native American tribes rallied against the Keystone XL pipeline. The Native Americans faced two major problems that affected their communities disproportionately. The first problem was a deal TransCanada made with South Dakota to use the reservation as a truck route, which would allow TransCanada to bypass the weighing stations and save money. Second the proposed pipeline would pass through the reservation, disturbing nature which the Native Americans highly treasure. Both of these problems would lead to environmental hazards that will affect mainly the minority Native American community.

                Creation of an alternate route that would not end in Port Arthur or the surrounding areas is a possibility. TransCanada has already made some revision to the plan but do not change one of the endpoints from Port Arthur and still traverses many waterways. Alternative routes are not considered initially because the routes could reduce the overall profit made by the pipeline. The effect the pipeline may have on minority communities and the environment needs to be considered thoroughly. Simply asking the question ‘Who reaps the benefits and who receives the negative?’ can help in a major way.

                The Keystone XL Pipeline is a grand idea for the energy security of the United States, but the current route is not ideal because it disproportionately affects some minority communities. The cities of Port Arthur, Carver Terrace, and the Pine Ridge Reservation are all example of minority communities with many environmental hazards that the Pipeline travel through. The negative effects of the pipe line would be compounded with the already predominant environmental hazards in the area. Use of an alternate route that could bypass the minority communities would reduce the negative effects and still increase our energy security. But is the energy security today worth insecurity within the minority populations nationwide?

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