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The Un-Keystone


What is the keystone to the Keystone pipeline? Is the keystone all of the thousands of temporary jobs it will create, or the energy independence from foreign nations? Or is it the potential to harm thousands of miles of the environment and pollute fresh water, continued polluting of the air? I can tell you the one thing that is keystone to the Keystone pipeline. The key is the continual environmental injustice that is faced by the citizens that will handle the dirty outcome of the Keystone pipeline and forever live with its effects. Everything that I have heard and read addresses the environmental impacts or economic benefits of the pipeline, but tends to breeze over the environmental justice impacts the pipeline will create. There is a lack of research and acknowledgement of the impacts communities living along the pipeline will face as well as the ethnic, communities at the end of the pipeline. More research needs to be done on the Keystone pipeline in terms of how it affects people’s lives from an environmental justice standpoint. Not just economic or environmental.

There are already serious problems with the pipeline that have been exemplified in several cases. Issues of oil spills from ruptured pipelines already established through the Midwest in places like Montana and more recently Arkansas. The spills have caused communities to evacuate. Not able to return to their homes helpless as oil spills down their streets, soaking into their lawns. Yet the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency still deem the new pipeline as “safe.”  An evacuee from Arkansas stated that she hadn’t known how close the pipeline was to her house until the spill. This is just one situation that I am sure will have many more to follow it if the Keystone pipeline is built. The original Keystone pipeline had more than 12 spills in the first year, spilling over 21,000 gallons in one spill. In a broader scope the pipeline will run along and through important aquifers, Sands Hills and the Ogallala. If there were to be another major spill, the oil will contaminate the Midwest’s’ largest, vital sources of drinking water.

But what about the people living at the end of the pipeline? The city of Port Arthur in Texas is built on the industry of oil refining and home to multiple industrial facilities and the Motiva refinery, what will become one of the largest refineries in the world if utilized by the Keystone pipeline. Federal Housing units built on the fence of the Motiva refinery; house mostly African Americans considering 45% of Port Arthur is African American. Pollution from the refineries and factories seriously impact the health of its residents and the Keystone pipeline will bring even more dirty oil to be refined, further hindering the health of the poor minorities that live there. The pipeline is a double-edged sword for the communities in Port Arthur. While they do not want the pollution from the pipeline, it offers the appeal of jobs in a highly unemployed area.

Do any of these stories ring a bell? They are the stories, not heavily portrayed in the media, let alone adequately researched and represented in the Environmental Impact Assessments of the EPA to determine if the Keystone pipeline should be carried out or not. The keystone of the Keystone pipeline is the communities and the minorities that will be forever impacted, but never recognized.


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