Tuesday, April 30, 2013

ES&T editorial calls Keystone XL a "pipeline to nowhere"

Editor-in Chief of the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology Dr. Jerald Schnoor, also a professor in the departments of civil & environmental engineering and occupational & environmental health at the University of Iowa, has written an editorial for the journal in which he calls the Keystone XL pipeline a "pipeline to nowhere".

Use of coal, oil, and natural gas has to stop (in that order). But "dirty" oil, emanating from oil sands (a.k.a., tar sands) with a significantly higher carbon footprint than conventional oil, deserves a place at the front of the line. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would enable development of oil sands from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S., but this dog will not hunt. It is a pipeline to nowhere-a dead end in our economic future.

-Jerald Schnoor

Schnoor adduces five points against the building of the pipeline:

  1. We do not really need the oil. "Energy efficiency is actually the key(stone) we should be focusing on. "
  2. Keystone XL would add to global greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. It is a slippery (and oily) slope.
  4. Let Canadians decide (about pipelines in Canada for carrying the oil).
  5. When do we start to stop? If not now, when?

It has been a good run, this fossil fuel age. But from the invention of steam power in the 1700s when industrial society first started to burn huge quantities of coal, the future was preordained. One cannot burn all the fossil fuels that required 300 million years to form in just a few centuries and not expect to pay consequences. The fossil fuel age has massively disrupted the balance of oxidation and reduction on earth. Thus, elemental cycles yield more oxidized products like acid rain (nitric acid, sulfuric acid) and carbon dioxide as a result.

-Jerald Schnoor