The Instigator
Liberalmoderate14
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Volkov
Pro (for)
Winning
10 Points

keystone pipeline (I'm against it)

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Volkov
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/26/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,511 times Debate No: 39472
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (2)

 

Liberalmoderate14

Con

I disagree with the keystone pipeline because it's unsafe. In the leak on May 7, 2011 near Millner, N.D., 21,000 gallons of oil was spilled in total. I would like to see what someone else who disagrees with me has to say about this.
Volkov

Pro

Hello DDO.

I've accepted this debate on the pro-side of whether or not the proposed Trans-Canada Keystone XL pipeline, which will stretch from Nebraska, USA, to Alberta, Canada, and carry crude oil extracted from the (in)famous Alberta Oil Sands. This is a controversial undertaking, with one of the concerns being noted by my opponent above - the risks associated with oil spills and other disasters that could befall such a large pipeline. My goal will be to show that:

a) that pipelines are a safe way to transport needed petroleum products;
b) that in the case of a spill or other disaster, we have the capability to reduce harm; and
c) that any perceived risks are outweighed by the benefits of constructing the pipeline.

Let me begin by addressing the oil spill my opponent mentioned in his opening statement.

On May 7, 2011, a leak occurred at a pumping station along Trans-Canada's existing Keystone pipeline, dumping 21,000 gallons of crude oil into the adjacent areas. This was an awful disaster that was among nearly a dozen of bad spills in recent years that have affected the industry's image, not to mention the lives of those who were nearby.

While this and many other spills are terrible events, the fact is that pipelines stretch across huge distances in North America, and represent a huge amount of instructure to keep tally of, with close to 900,000km of pipelines carrying oil and natural gas domestically and internationally. With so much infrastructure to take care of, leaks and spills are to be expected. According to one report I found, 15.6-million gallons of oil (as well as fracking fluid, wastewater, etc.) were lost from oil production wells and sites (the incident in North Dakota took place at one of these sites) in the US in 2012 alone, a huge amount that came from various incidents[1]. This is obviously an intolerable situation, even if it is a known risk associated with a needed industry.

While that number is huge, the fact is that it is minimal compared to how much petroleum products are shipped through the pipeline networks each year. The Association of Oil Pile Lines (AOPL) notes that 11.3-billion barrels of product move through interstate (that is to say, domestic-only in the US) pipelines, or 474,600,000,000 (474.6-billion) gallons, per year[2]. The amount of oil lost at these oil wells is less than 0.00004% of the total that goes through pipelines each year. Even more amazingly, data from the US Department of Transportation"s Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Association shows that the total number of onshore pipeline leaks in that same year amounted to just 45,934 barrels, or roughly 1.93-million gallons[3] " a fraction of the amount lost at wells.

While leaks do happen, it is clear that on a per volume basis, pipelines have an enviable safety record, with roughly 0.88 barrels of oil per millions transmitted on average. It would be unreasonable to expect that accidents cannot happen, but its clear that the risk of major accidents occuring among the pipeline networks just in America alone is not as great as some claim. A key thing to remember is that pipelines are not some newfangled technology " most of our petroleum in the United States and Canada is shipped to us through pipelines, and neither of our countries are giant seas of oil. That is a testament to the safety of pipelines on this continent, and there is no reason to expect any less regulation on the proposed Keystone XL.

However, those leaks do happen, and as I already noted, they can be devastating for the environment, and for people. The North Dakota incident is a prime example of that.

Let"s talk about that incident, though. According to the North Dakota Public Service Commission"s May 16, 2011 summary of the incident, a very clear process was outlined about how Trans-Canada dealt with the leak. It started with a detection by the pipeline"s Leak Detection System at 03:51 on May 7th, with an investigation by attendent personnel who, upon confirmation by a local farmer, had shut down the entire pipeline system by 04:35, less than an hour after the first detection. The following days saw the clean-up of the spill, including recovery of 280 barrels of product (out of roughly 500 that leaked). Only 5 barrels leaked onto adjacent farmland. Trans-Canada then did a thorough investagation of the incident, discovered what had went wrong, and committed to corrective action[4].

A terrible incident, but one that was detected, cleaned up, and handled, with minimal risk and cost. Trans-Canada clearly understands what it must do to ensure the safety of the lands its pipelines cross, includng the current Keystone pipelines. Keystone XL will be no different, as Trans-Canada has promised to outfit the pipeline with state-of-the-art safety features, including automatic shut-off valves, a 24/7 monitoring centre, and much more[5]. One of their touted safety measures includes above-ground pump stations like the one in North Dakota, which allow for easy access to control any situations that might arise, as we saw above.

Clearly, Keystone will have the ability to detect and stop any leaks from running out of control. Even in the case of leaks, Trans-Canada and other industry companies have proven to take responsibility when accidents occur. Monetary settlements for any damaged property come quickly, and responses from both industry and government are effective at minimizing the damage[6].

Finally, let us consider the benefits of Keystone XL"s construction. The project is an absolutely huge undertaking, stretching over 1,700 miles from tip to end, and it will require a lot of investment and infrastructure to work. A detailed jobs report from Trans-Canada shows that roughly 20,000 jobs will be created in the United States alone[7], though this has been disputed by critics. Even if they are right, Keystone XL will bring in 830,000 more barrels per day of oil into the US from Alberta"s oil sands for refining and distribution[8], which will help ease the United States" dependence on foreign oil, a key pledge in President Barack Obama"s last two presidential campaigns (and just a good idea overall).

Plus, not only will the US work with a valued partner in Canada, it will gain a safe and clean energy supply, and Americans can sleep well knowing they"re buying from friends, and not enemies.

With that, I wish to come to a conclusion in this first round. Yes, accidents happen " but they are rare and not as severe as you would expect when considering the billions of gallons of oil transported throughout the US and Canada each year. When they do happen, they are swiftly detected, capped, and cleaned up, and responsibility is taken by the operators. Keeping all that in mind and adding in the benefits Keystone XL will bring to Americans by creating jobs and bringing in a safer, cleaner energy supply, it is clear that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Keystone XL should not be opposed, it should be embraced.

Sources:
1: http://www.eenews.net...
2: http://www.aopl.org...
3: http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov...
4: http://www.argusleader.com...
5: http://keystone-xl.com...
6: http://www.epa.gov...
7: http://www.transcanada.com...
8: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov... (pg. 3, ES-1.1)
Debate Round No. 1
Liberalmoderate14

Con

The Canadian company TransCanada hopes to begin building the northern section of an oil pipeline that would trek close to 2,000 miles from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas. If constructed, the pipeline, known as Keystone XL, will carry one of the world"s dirtiest fuels: tar sands oil. Along its route from Alberta to Texas, this pipeline could devastate ecosystems, pollute water sources and jeopardize public health.

Giant oil corporations invested in Canada's tar sands are counting on the Keystone XL pipeline to make the expansion of oil extraction operations there profitable: The pipeline would double imports of dirty tar sands oil into the United States and transport it to refineries on the Gulf Coast and ports for international export.

Unfortunately, an area the size of Florida is already set for extraction. Before TransCanada can begin construction, however, the company needs a presidential permit from the Obama administration because the pipeline crosses an international border.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

An environmental crime in progress

Dirty tar sands oil

Pollution from tar sands oil greatly eclipses that of conventional oil. During tar sands oil production alone, levels of carbon dioxide emissions are three to four times higher than those of conventional oil, due to more energy-intensive extraction and refining processes. The Keystone XL pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil into the United States daily, and result in climate-damaging emissions equal to adding more than 5.6 million new cars to U.S. roads, further adding to our already-ongoing global-warming effect, which could melt the polar ice caps and cause ocean flooding on land, and if the ice is gone, the animals that live on it or in the cold seas around it will become endangered, or even extinct.

Water waste and pollution

During the tar sands oil extraction process, vast amounts of heat, water and chemicals are needed to separate the tarry substance (known as bitumen) from sand, silt, and clay and to flow up the pipeline. The water used in the process comes from rivers and underground aquifers. It takes three barrels of water to extract each single barrel of oil. Ninety-five percent of the water used to extract the oil, which is about 2.4 million barrels per day, is so polluted that the water must be stored in large human-made pools, known as tailing ponds. As the heavy bitumen sinks to the bottom of these ponds, the toxic sludge, full of harmful substances like cyanide and ammonia, works its way into neighboring clean water supplies.

Forest Destruction

The tar sands oil are underneath the world"s largest intact ecosystem, the Boreal forests of Alberta. The forests not only serve as an important carbon sink, but its biodiversity and unspoiled bodies of water support large populations of many different species. They are a buffer against climate change as well as food and water shortages. However, in the process of digging up tar sands oil, the forests are destroyed. This valuable forest and its endangered caribou are both threatened by the pipeline.

Indigenous populations

Northern Alberta, the region where tar sands oil is extracted, is home to many indigenous populations. Important parts of their cultural traditions and livelihood are coming under attack because of tar sands operations. Not only have indigenous communities been forced off of their land, but also those living downstream from tailing ponds have seen spikes in rates of rare cancers, renal failure, lupus, and hyperthyroidism. In the lakeside village of Fort Chipewyan, for example, 100 of the town"s 1,200 residents have died from cancer.

These problems will only get worse, unless tar sands production is halted. Investing in a new pipeline would increase the rate of production, while decreasing the quality of life for indigenous populations.

Pipeline spills

The Keystone XL pipeline would traverse six U.S. states and cross major rivers, including the Missouri River, Yellowstone, and Red Rivers, as well as key sources of drinking and agricultural water, such as the Ogallala Aquifer which supplies water to more than one fourth of America"s irrigated land and provides drinking water for two million Americans.

The probability of spills from this pipeline is high and more threatening than conventional spills, because tar sands oil sinks rather than floats, making clean ups more difficult and costly. TransCanada's first pipeline proves that this threat is real, as it spilled a dozen times in less than a year of operation. Experts warn that the more acidic and corrosive consistency of the type of tar sands oil being piped into the U.S. as well as the risk of external corrosion from higher pipeline temperatures makes spills more likely, and have joined the EPA in calling on the State Department to conduct a thorough study of these risks.

In the summer of 2010, a million gallons of tar sands oil poured into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan from a pipeline run by another Canadian company, Enbridge. Although nearly one billion dollars have been spent over the past three years to clean up the spill, almost 40 miles of the river are still contaminated.

In April 2013, a 22-foot crack in an Exxon pipeline caused a devastating tar sands oil spill that began in a residential neighborhood of Mayflower, Arkansas and into Lake Conway, a drinking water source and popular fishing spot. Residents of the community were unaware of the pipeline under their town until this massive spill.

Refining tar sands oil

After traveling through the Keystone XL pipeline, tar sands oil would be brought to facilities in Texas to be further refined. Refining tar sands oil is dirtier than refining conventional oil, and results in higher emissions of toxic sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide. These emissions cause smog and acid rain and contribute to respiratory diseases like asthma. Communities near the refineries where the Keystone XL pipeline terminates, many of them low-income and communities of color, already live with dangerously high levels of air pollution. The Keystone XL pipeline would further exacerbate the heavy burden of pollution and environmental injustices these communities confront.

One dangerous and high-carbon byproduct of these refineries is petroleum coke, or petcoke. Although petcoke is produced inexpensively, it is costly to store and is often dumped into open pits. Burning petcoke is more carbon-intensive than burning coal, so the United States Environmental Protection Agency will no longer permit power plants in the United States to do so. However, plants in China, India, and Latin America import petcoke as a cheap coal substitute.

Stopping the pipeline

Tar sands oil is one of the dirtiest fuels on the Earth. Facilitating the exploitation of the tar sands will delay investments in clean and safe alternatives to oil, such as better fuel economy requirements, plug-in electric cars fueled by solar power, and smart growth and public transportation infrastructure that give Americans choices other than cars. In order to avoid devastating effects on the climate from a global rise of 2 degrees Celsius, such as the melting of the Arctic ice, sea level rise, and more extreme tornados and hurricanes and more floods and heat waves, the International Energy Association says that up to two-thirds of known fossil reserves must remain untouched. The Keystone Pipeline must be stopped, as it is causing harm to us and the environment we live in.
Volkov

Pro

Well, that was disappointing. I spent roughly two hours on my section of the debate going through and learning about a topic I have never looked at before, and unfortunately my opponent has decided to plagarise talking points from the environmentalist website Friends of the Earth, quite literally lifting an entire page word for word. Here is the link to the page: http://www.foe.org...

I thought it looked familiar, given I had been on the site earlier when looking for sources.

To note, environmental concerns are an important factor in the debate surrounding Keystone XL, but it is not the only one. If my opponent wishes to discuss the environmental impact, I will gladly do so - however, my debate is with him, not the FOE. I will give him round three to reintroduce his arguments, his OWN arguments, and maybe we can continue this debate.

I'd also like to note that FOE's page doesn't really deal with safety issues, but rather slandering "tar sands" oil. My points all still stand.
Debate Round No. 2
Liberalmoderate14

Con

Although the environment isn't the only argument against the keystone pipeline, its a very important one. We live in the environment, and the animals live in the environment. Also, people's health and well-being are being affected by this pipeline. Asthma, hypothyroidism and other rare diseases are commonly found to be an effect of water-contamination. But not just drinking water, even agricultural water. And, if The co2 emissions from this pipeline increase our global temperature, then the ice caps will melt and cause ocean flooding to islands and low-elevated areas. And the people aren't the only ones affected by this. Animals that live on the ice and in the cold oceans around the ice will possibly go extinct. That and the environmental harm caused by this pipeline to me just doesn't seem right. And, contrary to ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and BP profits in 2005 and 2010, 11,200 employees in the U.S Workforce lost their jobs. Even their global workforce dove down to 4,400 employees, when their executives paid themselves 220 million dollars the exact same year. Instead of the same fossil fuel interests encouraging the keystone pipeline creating jobs, its cutting jobs. Additionally, Mother Nature is getting even crazier these days. Due to Global Warming, Natural Disaster frequencies have increased drastically and the severity of the disasters are increasing with it. That's all caused by co2 and other toxic gases being released into the air, which is what the pipeline does everyday. So, that means more houses and buildings are going to be constantly rebuilt, putting financial hardship on families and friends. Besides, We can use more reliable, renewable, and environmentally-friendly energy sources, like electric cars, solar-powered electricity, and more.

To learn more about why I think the keystone pipeline is bad AND If you don't believe me, you can check my sources this time: http://www.labor4sustainability.org...

This time I made sure to reword what I read to make sure it wasn't plagiarism.
Volkov

Pro

Thank you, Liberalmoderate14, for your response.

The environment is something we all need to be concerned about, that I do not dispute. I also do not dispute the hazardous effects of the use of oil and petroleum as an energy source. These things are all well documented, so there is no point in refuting them.

Instead, I will respond to my opponent's argument with a single undeniable fact: that the United States needs crude oil in order to function, and that this is an overriding concern in spite of the environmental effects.

It is easy enough to demonstrate. The world uses roughly 89-million barrels of oil per day, or 32-billion barrels per year[1]. The US in 2011 used just under 7-billion barrels of oil in a single year, or around 22% of the world's total[2], even though it only has 4% of the world's population. With such a vast need of energy, supplies, its clear that the Keystone XL pipeline can only help the situation, rather than hinder it. As I had mentioned in my Round 1 argument, Keystone XL is expected to bring in 830,000 barrels per day of Alberta crude oil to the US, or 302-million barrels per year of cleaner oil from your friendly trading partner to the north. There is no downside to that argument.

My opponent pointed out that renewable energy is a much cleaner source of energy, which is true. However, data from the US Energy Information Administration shows that renewables only make up 9.1% of the total US energy consumption, compared to 35.3% for petroleum[3]. That includes 93% of energy consumption in transportation, 40% of industrial consumption, 17% of residential and commercial consumption, and 1% of it goes into energy production.

Clearly, a consistent source of crude oil is needed if the Untied States wishes to keep up its current consumption of energy. As much as people would like to change it, it is a fact you cannot get around. Keystone XL will provide a brand new way to bring in crude oil, and is an opportunity the US cannot afford to pass up.

Plus, there is the added benefit that Alberta's oil sands are highly regulated and developed for clean extraction and consumption where possible. The Alberta government alone has committed over a billion dollars to improve clean technology in relation to oil sands development[4].

So, to recap my arguments:

While there are risks associated with pipelines, the risk is fairly minimal when considering the amount of oil transported just within the US alone, which is on the order of billions of barrels per year, compared to under 100,000 barrels of oil spilled from pipelines on average per year.

Even in the event of a spill, Trans-Canada has a quick response time that limits the damage possible, initiates a clean-up procedure, and investigates the causes of any spill so future issues can be avoided.

Keystone XL will provide the US economy with an estimated 20,000 jobs from development of the pipeline alone, and bring in an estimated 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil for refining and consumption within the US.

Finally, that despite environmental concerns, crude oil is needed to fulfill America's energy demands, a fact that is impossible to get around. Keystone XL will allow for the safe transportation of cleaner Alberta crude oil into the US, thus satisfying a key demand and allowing the US a consistent, safe source of friendly oil for the future.

I will note that my opponent did not refute any of my arguments in Round 1, and I have countered his argument in Round 3 effectively. Round 2, of course, is a total loss due to my opponent's plagiarism, though whether or not you take that into account with your vote is up to you.

I'd also like to note that my Round 1 argument is absolutely littered with grammatical and spelling errors - I apologize for that, however I did that at work with a... shall we say substandard computer, as well as limited time. Again, take that into account as you wish.

Sources:
1: http://www.iea.org...
2: http://www.eia.gov...
3: http://www.eia.gov...
4: http://www.oilsands.alberta.ca...
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Volkov 3 years ago
Volkov
Thanks for voting, bladerunner.
Posted by bladerunner060 3 years ago
bladerunner060
In general, I am of the opinion that, when someone so blatantly plagiarizes (not even sourcing, let alone quoting), it loses conduct for the plagiarism, and the other categories because you can't get sources for sourcing you didn't do, can't get S&G for things you didn't write, and can't get arguments for ones you never made.

However, Pro did not attack the R3 in terms of plagiarism, so Con did at least present one round of his own.

S&G was equal for that. Conduct for the plagiarism, sourcing for the plagiarism and for Pro's actual sourcing to support his arguments of reliable sources, in contrast to Pro's plagiaristic use of his own sources.

Con presented arguments in R3 of his own, but they were quickly rebutted by Pro. Con's plagiarism hurts his case a great deal, even though Pro rebutted it despite that. Pro's pointing out of the necessity of sources of oil effectively dodged Con's points regarding the environment--had Con had more rounds, perhaps he could have made a case to deal with that, but he didn't, and so Pro's points stand.

As always, happy to clarify this RFD.
Posted by JamesClift 3 years ago
JamesClift
If you are just going to copy+paste a website for your "argument," that completely defeats the purpose of debate.org.....
Posted by JamesClift 3 years ago
JamesClift
If you are just going to copy+paste a website for your "argument," that completely defeats the purpose of debate.org.....
Posted by Volkov 3 years ago
Volkov
I suppose its too late to tell myself to heed the warning signs?

Liberalmoderate14, if you don't want to finish the debate, forfeit the round so this doesn't sit around for three days.
Posted by Volkov 3 years ago
Volkov
I would take this but, no offense, I'm afraid of not getting a very substantial debate. Do you have more arguments to back it up or is it just oil spills?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 3 years ago
bladerunner060
Liberalmoderate14VolkovTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by Zaradi 3 years ago
Zaradi
Liberalmoderate14VolkovTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pretty solid debate. I end voting pro here because a) Con never specifically attempts to refute Pro's arguments, only instead trying to establish his own, which leaves a lot of pro's arguments uncontested and kinda catastrophic for him, b) Con's arguments receive refutation from pro, which make me hesitate accepting them, and c) even if I did accept con's arguments, Pro's unrefuted arguments address the issue brought up by Con and accounts for them while still swinging the debate in Pro's favor. Pretty easy vote. Still a good debate. Any questions you have can be addressed to me.