The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
17 Points

The US should authorize the construction of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/27/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,317 times Debate No: 43031
Debate Rounds (4)
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Since I already know Oromagi will be accepting, I'll just jump right into the argument. (First round is constructive only, 2nd round constructive and rebuttals, 3rd round rebuttals only, 4th round summary and impact weighing)

My three main contentions are:
1. It will create more job opportunities.
2. It is necessary and is safer than other options.
3. It will reduce American dependence on foreign oil.

1. It will create more job opportunities.
The XL Pipeline project has the potential to create a large number of jobs, both in its construction, & in refining & processing at its terminal points with in the United States.
State Dept.:
Produced a report which indicates that the Pipeline should create as many as 550,000 permanent jobs in total!
The potential of over 550,000 jobs are at stake here! Should we really block the construction, as the Proposition side is arguing, of something that can potentially increase the amount of jobs our economy has to offer?

2. It is necessary and is safer than other options.
We recognize that the Keystone XL Pipeline may have some environmental harms, but we have to realize something that if the U.S. doesn"t accept the Pipeline plan, Transcanada will simply transport it another way, to another country. They"re determined to sell their oil no matter what. However, what the bad part is that if we reject their pipeline, they will start transporting to a new business partner, China, & this will be done through fracking, which is offshore oil drilling. The potential for environmental harms are a lot higher than if we simply accepted it.
According to Office of International Science & Engineering:
Offshore oil rigs can be far worse to contain when it leaks.
Fracking emits 72% more greenhouse gases than the Keystone XL Pipeline would.
This may sound ironic, but by accepting the XL Pipeline, we are actually saving the environment & doing it some good. It"s either fracking or the XL Pipeline, & U.S. gets the oil, jobs, & oil dependency. You choose, voters. Also, to further prevent the likelihood of a spill, Transcanada has now added safety switches that shut down the pipeline immediately if there is a pressure change, & sensors every five ft that are backed up by watchtowers that are backed up by satellites. They can immediately sense when there is the slightest pressure, & professionals will be there on the spot. Judge, new technology will prevent the possibility of a leak.
According to U.S. Congressional Budget Office:
If there is no Keystone XL, U.S. gas prices will consequently likely be over $5 gallon no later than this summer, not simply because of the loss of the Canadian oil, but also because the permitting of wells in the Gulf, not allowing drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge & the global marketplace, who sets world oil prices based on world supply & demand.

3. Keystone XL will reduce American dependence on foreign oil.
One of the main things about the U.S. that bugs all of us is how much we "borrow". Whether it"s money, ideas, or even oil! We should reduce the amount of oil we borrow from foreign countries.
According to U.S. Energy Information Administration [EIA]:
Currently, the U.S. imports nearly U32; of its Petroleum.
Most of it comes from the leading suppliers including nations such as Nigeria, Venezuela & Saudi Arabia.
Due to political instability & the difficult US relations with these nations, US supplies cannot be considered secure, & with the results of research into alternative sources of energy being decades away from fruition, the U.S. needs alternative sources of oil today. We need to stop importing from other countries!
According to Consumer Energy Report [CER]:
In 2007, the U.S. imported 60% of the oil we consumed.
That is a LOT of oil imports. This matters because not only does the oil imports add to our debt, it brings our independence as a country down, and that"s not good for our economy.


THESIS: The potential risks of proceeding with Phase4 of the XL Keystone Pipeline outweigh the potential benefits.

The KEYSTONE PIPELINE SYSTEM is a pipeline system to transport synthetic crude oil from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the Gulf Coast of Texas. Two phases of the project are in operation, a third, from Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf coast, is under construction, and the fourth is awaiting U.S. government approval as of September 2013. [1]

OIL SANDS are loose sand or partially consolidated sandstone containing naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay, and water, saturated with a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen. [2]

Local Risk


Let's begin our evaluation of the risk associated with the completion of the XL Pipeline in Alberta, Canada. Here, the plan is to extract petroleum from 3 major fields representing the second largest reserve of fossil fuels after Saudi Arabia. The difference between the relatively liquid oil under the Arabian Peninsula and the cold molasses under Alberta is that these fossil fuels can't simply be pumped out. There are a wide variety of methods for extracting bitumen with varying degrees of effectiveness. Generally, the most effective methods require the largest input of steam, oil, and caustic chemicals. In all cases, the top soil must be removed taking the wetlands and boreal forests off in the process. In Alberta's case, the size of the virgin boreal forest destined for removal is the size of New York State [3], necessarily destroying significant portions of Canada's remaining bear, moose, beaver, wolf, and eagle populations alongside hundreds of lesser known species.

Boreal forests by their nature contain the world's largest percentage of wetlands, and Canada's boreal wetlands are visited by nearly half of bird species of North America. Current oil sands operations in Alberta use about twice the annual volume of its largest city Calgary, an amount that will increase significantly as production progresses. In spite of recycling efforts, almost all of this oil and acid and arsenic tainted water ends up in tailings ponds. Currently, these lifeless toxic pools cover only about 20 square miles of Alberta but many such ponds will be necessary to support increased production. Mass deaths among flocks of birds who land on or near these pools has been recorded since the 1970's. Last April, a flock of 500 mallards were observed landing on one pond and dying days. [4]

"Wildlife is becoming tainted by toxins: fish and game animals are
appearing covered with tumours and mutations. Fish frying in a
pan smell like burning plastic. One study by a tar sands company
concluded that some moose meat from the region contains as
much as 453 times the acceptable level of arsenic. The Alberta
government responded with an assessment that reported arsenic
levels to be “only” 17 to 33 times greater than acceptable
levels. Arsenic is a potent cancer-causing substance,
and the estimates in both reports were well beyond the acceptable rate of
additional cancers of 1 per 100,000 people." [5]


Beyond environmental calamity in Alberta, there are important risks associated with any pipeline transportation. Wikipedia lists more that 280 major pipeline incidents in the US since the year 2000. [6] The 2013 Mayflower rupture is a good example. Here, an ExxonMobil pipeline carrying heavy crude from the Athabasca oil sands developed a 22 foot rupture that inundated 22 houses and a popular fishing lake in Arkansas. Although, Exxon denies any long term environmental harm citing tests of surface water in Lake Conway, an independent analysis dredged the bottom of the lake and

"Among the chemicals detected in the sample of the tar sands oil from the March 29, 2013 rupture of an ExxonMobil pipeline in Mayflower, Ark., were: benzene, a known human carcinogen; xylene, which can harm the nervous system; chromium, which can cause cancer and birth defects; and lead, which can cause serious and permanent damage to the developing nervous system. Other chemicals found by laboratory researchers were: Toluene (birth defects), Ethylbenzene (carcinigen), and 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene (respiratory irritant). Because of industry trade secrets, EWG was able to test for only a limited number of potential contaminants in the crude oil sample from Mayflower. [7]

The cause for the rupture has not yet been determined. Exxon is, of course, battling the residents in court. [8]

Although the original route of the pipeline through Nebraska's famous Sand Hill Crane rookeries has been relocated, the pipeline will still transport heavy crude over the Ogallala Aquifer, the underground water reserve that irrigates much of the agriculture West of the Mississippi and provides drinking water to at least 2 million people.

Although the pipeline's owner TransCanada predicts only one pipeline rupture every 7 years, the existing portions of the Keystone Pipeline experienced 12 ruptures in the past year alone. [9] Portions of the route are seismically active and in one place experienced a 4.3 magnitude earthquake in 2002. [10] In spite of these concerns, TransCanada has applied to the US Government for permission to use thinner steel and pump at higher pressures than U government standard. [11]


There is also an increased risk at the refineries in Texas. Processing bitumen is 12-15% dirtier than lighter oil, so increasing the amount of crude production increases the health risks to the people living near the refineries of Texas and Louisiana. Aside from the real dangers of explosions and fires and the terrible smells, increased respiratory problems and cancer rates are strongly correlated to living near a refinery, an important reason why no new refineries have been built in the US over the past 35 years and an important reason Canadians would prefer not to build their own new refinery to process tar sands. Which brings us to some political considerations.

National Risk

There are some significant political considerations surrounding the XL pipeline. Chief among them is this: since the oil sand extracted in Canada is primarily intended for Asian customers, why should the US absorb such a substantial portion of the risk? We can understand why Canada would prefer not despoil her mountains with pipelines and her coasts with refineries without necessarily feeling any compulsion to save Canada those costs. TransCanada had 34 eminent actions against landowners in Texas and 22 in South Dakota. That is, unless US citizens agree to TransCanada's terms for pumping oil across their lands, the US Government will confiscate their land on behalf of a foreign interest. [12] Such confiscations hardly seem possible until we evaluate the millions of dollars TransCanada has been contributing to (mostly pro-oil Republican) politicians over the past few years. TransCanada has made some exaggerated claims about the number of jobs the pipeline might produce, but almost all the jobs are short term, low-wage construction jobs. Few new jobs will be required at the refineries and the extraction jobs are all in Canada.

Worse, the new pipeline will raise oil prices in the agriculture heavy mid-West.

"KXL will divert Tar Sands oil now supplying Midwest refineries, so it can be sold at
higher prices to the Gulf Coast and export markets. As a result, consumers in the
Midwest could be paying 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel
fuel. These additional costs (estimated to total $2–4 billion) will suppress other
spending and will therefore cost jobs." [13]

Most of the advantages of XL are exclusive to Big Oil and Canadian citizens, while US citizens absorb significant disadvantages. The Keystone pipeline is generally bad for America.

Global Risk

Scientists have documented that the the global surface temperature rose by 0.74±0.18 °C over the last 100 years. [14]

"Alberta's oil sands represent a significant tonnage of carbon... The amount of CO2 locked up in Alberta tar sands is enormous, if we burn all the tar sand oil, the temperature rise, just from burning that tar sand, will be half of what we've already seen"—an estimated additional nearly 0.4 degree C from Alberta alone." [15]

In an era when scientists are cautioning industry to find ways to substantially decrease carbon emissions, can we really afford to rely on any solution that adds another 50% increase?

Nor does Scientific American's analysis take into account the loss of trees and wetlands. Biologists like to describe the world's forests and wetlands and the "lungs of the Earth." So even as we are clogging those lungs with carbon emissions, can we afford another puncture wound the size of the state of New York?

Debate Round No. 1


lin0913 forfeited this round.


There's plenty to refute in Pro's argument, but I'm not certain it is worth the effort in light of Pro's forfeit. I'll extend my opening argument this round and see if Pro's still game.
Debate Round No. 2


lin0913 forfeited this round.


Guess not. Extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 3


lin0913 forfeited this round.


Extend my arguments. Please vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
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3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Cheetah 4 years ago
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Vote Placed by Beverlee 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This was an amazing performance. The FFs were very, very unfortunate.
Vote Placed by Subutai 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF.