A recent statement from the White House rejected TransCanada’s application for a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed pipeline would travel 1,700 miles from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to southeastern Texas, taking the oil from its source to American oil refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.
President Obama issued a statement on Wednesday, Jan. 18 saying that the current TransCanada permit application had been rejected to ensure the “health and safety” of Americans.
However, this does not mean that the pipeline project has completely halted. TransCanada will be allowed to resubmit their permit application, providing that they reroute the pipeline to avoid sensitive habitats in the Nebraskan Sandhills, according to White House press releases.
Critics of the pipeline argue that the safety of America’s agricultural heartland and the health of American citizens will be threatened with the pipeline. According to the Tar Sands Action website a TransCanadian pipeline similar in construction to the proposed Keystone XL has experienced 12 spills in one year. Crude oil spills can affect the water table, endangering human health and impacting animal habitat and population.
Other concerns include the effects of the process through which the oil will be extracted from the Canadian Tar Sands, a process that will contribute to greenhouse gases and impact climate change, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s press release on the pipeline.
Junior Emily Sherman said that the recent developments on the environmental front have been “a long time coming.”
A member of the Ecology Club, Sherman is excited about politicians’ recent response to pressure from environmentalists.
“Politicians and decision makers are making it their responsibility to face environmental problems in a new and serious manner,” Sherman said.
She and other members of the Ecology Club have been active in pressuring lawmakers to reject the Keystone Pipeline, as well as fighting against other environmental injustices.
The “Keep the Ban” campaign, another hot button environmental issue for Virginians this year, also celebrated a success last week. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell announced last Thursday that he would not support lifting the ban on uranium mining this year.
McDonnell supported his statement by saying that he is requesting further studies be completed before mining is allowed to begin.
UMW junior Graham Givens organized October’s Keep the Ban rally on campus. He emphasized that this progress is a small victory, but that ultimately the campaign to keep Virginia from uranium mining is far from over.
“This [decision] means that we cannot turn our backs on this and we must continue to put pressure on our legislators,” said Givens.
Following McDonnell’s decision last week, critics of uranium mining insist that Virginia citizens must not let this issue fall to the wayside, according to the Keep the Ban website.
Melanie Szulczewski, assistant professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, is a member of the President’s Council on Sustainability at UMW. Szulczewski was optimistic by the recent developments in environmental issues.
The recent breaks in environmental campaigns prove that “energy decisions for big businesses are no longer no-brainer governmental arrangements,” Szulczewski said.
She is amazed by the efforts of “a diverse group of students” at UMW who rallied around these important environmental issues.