“They are going to open up the Sandhills like they’re gutting a catfish on Saturday night. They are going to stick a pipe in our water supply that will pump between 30-40 million gallons [of tar sand oil] every day through our state. You can’t even comprehend. We need to wake up, our leaders need to wake up and take some action” –Nebraska Rancher
Tag Archive: Ogallala Aquifer
TransCanada wants to build an oil pipeline through my state. Through MY state. Through a river system and wildlife sanctuary and serves as a huge staging area for migratory birds. Forbes Magazine has labeled the Platte River as the #1 place in the world for bird watchers. In addition to the 500k+ endangered Sanhill Cranes that stop here, between 14 and 16 million ducks and geese also pass through the area, as well as many other species of migratory birds.
They want to build this oil pipeline on top of the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest aquifer in the United States. This aquifer covers portions of South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. This aquifer is responsible for 30% of agriculture irrigation in the entire U.S. and 82% of the drinking water for people who live within it’s area. Here’s a map of the aquifer:
That’s a lot of water for a lot of people.
The portion of the pipeline that will run through Nebraska is called the Keystone Pipeline. You can read TransCanada’s explanation of the Keystone Pipeline here:
That page also provides links to feasibility and environmental impact studies.
TransCanada says, “Don’t worry, nothing will happen. Oh, but if it does, we have plenty of protective measures in place.” Yeah right. Anyone remember BP’s little fiasco in the Gulf?
The oil that TransCanada wants to pipe across Nebraska isn’t plain ol’ oil like we’re used to. It’s bitumenous sands, otherwise known ask oil sands or tar sands. Again, let’s go to wikipedia for a synopsis of oil sands. Click the links at your own risk.
Bituminous sands – colloquially known as oil sands (and sometimes referred to as tar sands) – are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. The sands contain naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay, water, and a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen (or colloquially “tar” due to its similar appearance, odour, and colour). Oil sands are found in large amounts in many countries throughout the world, but are found in extremely large quantities in Canada and Venezuela.
The crude bitumen contained in the Canadian oil sands is described by Canadian authorities as petroleum that exists in the semi-solid or solid phase in natural deposits. Bitumen is a thick, sticky form of crude oil, so heavy and viscous (thick) that it will not flow unless heated or diluted with lighter hydrocarbons. At room temperature, it is much like cold molasses. Venezuelan authorities often refer to similar types of crude oil as extra-heavy oil, because Venezuelan reservoirs are warmer and the oil is somewhat less viscous, allowing it to flow more easily.
Oil sands reserves have only recently been considered to be part of the world’s oil reserves, as higher oil prices and new technology enable them to be profitably extracted and upgraded to usable products. They are often referred to as unconventional oil or crude bitumen, in order to distinguish the bitumen extracted from oil sands from the free-flowing hydrocarbon mixtures known as crude oil traditionally produced from oil wells.
Making liquid fuels from oil sands requires energy for steam injection and refining. This process generates two to four times the amount of greenhouse gases per barrel of final product as the production of conventional oil. If combustion of the final products is included, the so-called “Well to Wheels” approach, oil sands extraction, upgrade and use emits 10 to 45% more greenhouse gases than conventional crude.
The environmental impact caused by oil sand extraction is frequently criticized by environmental groups such as Greenpeace. Environmentalists state that their main concerns with oil sands are land damage, including the substantial degradation in the land’s ability to support forestry and farming , greenhouse gas emissions, and water use. Oil sands extraction is generally held to be more environmentally damaging than conventional crude oil — carbon dioxide “well-to-pump” emissions, for example, are estimated to be about 1.3-1.7 times that of conventional crude.
If you’d like to read the full wikipedia entry, click here. This link is safe.
In a nutshell, oil sands cause significantly more pollution and environmental damage while yielding much less oil than traditional crude oil reserves. And they want to pipe this crap over my state. Wonderful.
Maybe you don’t live in Nebraska and think this doesn’t apply to you? Wrong. The Keystone Pipeline is only a portion of the network that will crisscross the U.S. Let’s take a peek at TransCanada’s U.S. involvement.
The green line running through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas is the Keystone Pipeline.
And lest we forget our friends to the north, here’s a map of the Canada and Alaska operations:
That’s a lot of natural gas and oil pipeline. So what’s a concerned citizen supposed to do?
First of all, get educated. Go to the source and learn about both sides of the issue. Read about what others are saying. Find a way to take action.
Great Plains Tar Sand Pipelines Blog
Also contains great links to other sites.
I will be following this issue and writing updates from time to time, so stay tuned. I’d also like to hear from other affected by this pipeline. Give me your view on the matter.