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The Keystone XL Pipeline: Are we better off without Alberta's tar-sands oil?

This is an "Green Speaker Series" event.
Note: I will be out of town and will not be able to make it

WHO: Stuart Keating of Environment Missouri
WHAT: A free talk on the Keystone XL pipeline and the Alberta tar-sands oil that will flow through it

Northern Albert holds deposits of tar sands or extremely heavy crude oil, made up of a mixture of bitumen (a semi-solid form of crude oil), sand, clay, and water. These Athabasca tar sands are the largest known reservoirs of crude bitumen in the world. Since 2011, the Keystone pipeline has been transporting this bitumen from Alberta to refineries in three sites in the Midwest, including Wood River, Illinois. The controversial Keystone XL pipeline is made up of two proposed additions to the Keystone pipeline. The first addition, running from Oklahoma to Texas, has been approved. The second addition would supplement the existing Keystone pipeline, starting in Alberta and joining the existing pipeline in Nebraska. The decision on this addition rests with President Obama and is expected at any time.

The environmental community has voiced strong opposition to the last addition for the following reasons:
* The energy returned on energy invested for tar-sands oil is much lower than it is for conventional oil, leading scientist James Hansen to say that "moving to tar sands, one of the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fuels on the planet" is a step in exactly the wrong direction.
* Scientists say that 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere is safe and sustainable. Currently we're at 400. The tar sands contain enough carbon to add another 120 ppm.
* The oil contains heavy metals and toxins, and must be pumped at extreme temperature and pressure. The original Keystone pipeline had twelve spills in its first twelve months.
* The pipeline will cross an active seismic zone that had a 4.3 magnitude earthquake in 2002.
* Open pit mining, which will be used to recover some of the oil, destroys the original boreal forest and muskeg, and it is likely the land will not be restored to its original state.

Please join us as Stuart Keating, State Advocate for Environment Missouri, addresses these and other issues surrounding the pipeline.

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  • Dirk M.

    Environment Missouri's Stuart Keating, the speaker, was very well-prepared and had an answer for every question. His command of the subject matter was impressive. I don't think he's given a talk on this subject before, but you wouldn't have known it. He was engaging, funny, and informative, even when the material was technical. I'm very grateful for his willingness to do the research and share it with us.

    By the time you read this, a video of the talk should be available at

    June 28, 2013

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