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

The Keystone XL Pipeline Should Be Built

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/14/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,269 times Debate No: 52412
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)





The proposed building of the Keystone XL Pipeline has been one of the most controversial environmental issues in recent years. Even so, the majority of Americans favour building the pipeline. A recent ABC poll shows that 65% of Americans support building the pipeline. On the other hand, only 22% of Americans are opposed to the pipeline being built. [1] In this debate, I shall be taking the position of the 22%. I will be arguing that the Keystone XL Pipeline should not be built. On the other hand, my opponent is arguing that the Keystone XL Pipeline should be built. The burden of proof is shared.

Structure and Rules

The 1st is solely dedicated to acceptance, statement of position, and definitions, if desired. Arguments begin in the 2nd round. This means that each debater has 3 rounds to argue their points. The final round is solely dedicated to rebuttals. This entails that no new arguments can be brought in the final round

Standard DDO rules apply in this debate. All sources must be included within the 10000 character limit.

Not following any of the rules, or violating the proposed structure of the debate at least warrant a loss of conduct points. Any further punishment shall be decided by the voters.


Keystone XL Pipeline: “a proposed 1,179-mile (1,897 km), 36-inch-diameter crude oil pipeline beginning in Hardisty, Alberta, and extending south to Steele City, Nebraska” [2]

And with all of that out of the way, I wish my future opponent the best of luck, and lets begin!





I accept. I take the stance that the Keystone Pipeline should be built.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank Pro for accepting this debate. My arguments in this round will be focussing on environmental concerns.

Contention One: Safety Concerns
Building the Keystone XL Pipeline would potentially have serious ramifications towards the water safety of local communities, located at the southerly end of the pipeline. Such concerns are to do with the possibility of a spill. Before I elaborate, note that I am not arguing that there necessarily will be a spill. I am merely arguing that a spill, which is possible, would have serious ramifications towards local areas. However, as we shall see later, there are good reasons to be concerned that there most likely will be a spill.

Sub-Point 1: A Spill Would Be Harmful
The originally proposed route of the Keystone XL Pipeline would cross a wide array of environmentally sensitive areas. [1] However, in the face of criticism from environmental activists, TransCanada has proposed a new route that supposedly “bypasses the most ecologically sensitive regions.” [2] Granted, the new route does detour around a few ‘ecologically sensitive’ areas. However, the claim that there is now little risk in building the Keystone XL Pipeline is manifestly false.

The Keystone XL Pipeline, despite avoiding an ecologically sensitive region called the Sandhills, still crosses through potentially sensitive areas such as the Ogallala Aquifer, as the below map demonstrates:

This is of significance, as the Ogallala Aquifer is absolutely vital to the drinking supplies of the High Plains (part of the Great Plains) geographical area. Dennehy of the US Geographical Survey, says that the aquifer “provides drinking water to 82% of people who live in the aquifer boundary [High Plains].” [3] According to Jim Goeke, a hydrogeologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the new route would make no difference, and still would contaminate groundwater: “You still have the same kind of problems, essentially, but you get around the Sandhills, and that was the purpose of the rerouting.” [4] Kevin O’Hanlon of the Lincoln Journal Stars argues that a worst case scenario could “pollute 4.9 billion gallons of groundwater with a plume of contaminants of 40 feet thick, 500 feet wide and 15 miles long.” O’Hanlon derives his arguments from an independent analysis performed by John Stansbury, of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. According to Stansbury: “[This plume, and other contaminant plume from the spill would pose serious health risks to people using that groundwater for drinking water and irrigation.” [5]
Sub-Point 2: A Spill is Likely
Two pieces of evidence back-up my assertion that a spill would be likely, if the Keystone XL Pipeline is built.

First, the Federal agency that would be charged with regulating safety measures to the pipeline, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is unlikely to be a reliable regulator. An article from the New York Times explains: “[the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration] - is chronically short of inspectors and lacks the resources needed to hire more, leaving too much of the regulatory control in the hands of pipeline operators themselves.” [6]

Second, TransCanada has a poor record when it comes to spills. They promise that it is unlikely that the Keystone XL Pipeline would spill. [6] However, such an assertion is dubious, at best. The original Keystone Pipeline leaked 12 times within its first year. [7] This includes a leak of 21000 gallons in North Dakota. [8] Yet it gets worse, as the Keystone XL Pipeline would be even more likely to leak than the original Keystone Pipeline. Shauna Theel explains: “The Keystone XL Pipeline would carry a component of tar sands (diluted by water) that [environmentalists say] is even more corrosive than crude oil and will make the pipeline more prone to leaks.” [9]

Contention Two: Global Warming

Building the Keystone XL Pipeline would have undesirable effects on the global climate, by contributing to global warming. However, considering that many Americans are ‘sceptical’ that global warming is not anthropogenic, I shall show that first.
Sub-Point 1: Global Warming is Anthropogenic

The evidence I will use to establish global warming is anthropogenic is the Hockey Stick graph, published by Mann, Bradley and Hughes.
To demonstrate that this determines global warming is anthropogenic, I present the following syllogism.

    1. If the Hockey Stick graph is (largely) accurate, then global warming is anthropogenic
    1. The Hockey Stick graph is (largely) accurate
    1. (Therefore) global warming is anthropogenic.

Now, such conclusion logically follows from the two premises, so, unless my opponent would like to disagree, all I have to do is to show that the two premises are correct.
This premise is uncontroversial. As one can see, at the time of the Industrial Revolution, temperatures started to dramatically rise. This corresponds with the rise of carbon dioxide emissions going into the atmosphere, determining that global warming would be anthropogenic.


The Hockey Stick has corroborates with a number of temperature reconstructions since it was published. New Scientist provides a comparison between the Hockey Stick graph and several other temperature reconstructions.

The most recent, and comprehensive reconstruction, called the Pages 2k project, corroborates with Mann’s original Hockey Stick. As Rahmstorf notes, “The global average of the new construction looks like a twin of the original ‘hockey stick’, the first such a reconstruction published 15 years ago.” [11]
Sub-Point 2: Carbon Emissions

Allowing the Keystone XL Pipeline to be constructed would have disastrous consequences towards the Earth’s climate.

The Keystone XL Pipeline adds a large amount of carbon dioxide emissions into Earth’s atmosphere. This notion is elucidated by Nuccitelli, who writes: “an overall estimate of around 580kg of CO2-equivalent emissions per barrel of tar sands appears reasonably accurate. Using the Keystone XL pipeline capacity of 830,000 barrels per day, this oil would account for approximately 175 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions per year. Over a 40 year timeframe, this adds up to over 7 billion metric tons of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases…tar sands petcoke production will add another 16.6 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions per year, or another 664 million metric tons over a 40 year timeframe.” [14]

It is reasonably well established that in 2 two degree rise in temperatures is a “danger limit.” [13] David Biello, writing in Scientific American writes, “the world could afford to put one trillion metric tonnes of carbon in the atmosphere by 2050 to have any chance of restraining global warming below 2 degrees…to date, fossil fuel burning, deforestation and other actions have put nearly 570 billion metric tons of carbon in the atmosphere.” [14] Now, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is much closer to 580 billion tonnes. [15]

Hence, we can derive from the above that in the next 36 years, we can afford to put 420 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The Keystone XL Pipeline itself would put about 7.6 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, representing 2% of the entire carbon budget we have. In order for us to stay in the carbon budget we need to be cutting emmissions by 2.5%. [16] Instead, we are increasing carbon dioxide emissions by 3% per year, and this is likely to grow larger, given the economic development of countries like China and India. [17]

Nuticelli notes, “if Keystone XL is approved, it is an indicator that the United States is still not taking climate change remotely as seriously as it needs to…it is a step along the wrong path.” [18] If, in fact, we were to burn all of the tar sands in Alberta, global temperatures would rise 0.4 degrees. [19] Approving Keystone XL would provide an incentive for more extraction of tar sands. It would suggest to corporations like TransCanada that extracting tar sands oil is permissible. It is not.

In this round, I have shown that the environmental consequences of Keystone XL are undesirable. I will, in the next round, show that the economic benefits associated with Keystone XL are limited and do not outweigh the environmental consequence alone.
















[16] ibid

[17] Ref. 14

[18] Ref. 13

[19] Ref. 14



rugbypro5 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2



Extend all arguments.



Yea, me too.
Debate Round No. 3


My opponent has been unable to provide an argument, and I don't seem him intending to do so. Hence, unless my opponent is able to provide an argument, I encourage voters to give a 7 point vote on my behalf.


No no, don't do that voters, Con's argument was atrocious- he had holes everywhere. I would argue that the whole "spill is likely" argument should land me the 3 points without me saying a word! And all the forfeit was was me letting Con vent, you don't interrupt a man when he's acting like Con was, so conduct should also go to me. Then I should also be voted for for the reliable resources too. Con's had resources, but they were... disgusting. I didn't even need resources, so you know the reliability of them, so I should also win resources. Spelling and grammar? Con spelt focusing with two 's' in the FIRST SENTENCE of his opening argument. Then "the southerly end of the pipeline." That should definitely be "southern". So I should win in that too. I encourage voters to give pro the 7 point win, because of the points I just brought up.

Thank you for an interesting debate Con.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Aithlin 7 years ago

You also didn't need resources because you didn't provide a case. Your usage of words like "atrocious" and "disgusting" shows a lack of willingness to engage in a civil debate. If you're going to say that my resources were (perhaps) unreliable, a good way of expressing this would be: "Con's provided a variety of sources. Yet, the vast majority of them, when it came to reliability, were at best dubious. [give reasons here]." It is not proper etiquette to say that my sources were "disgusting." I would expect better from a 17 year old that pertains to a political ideology that promotes traditional, family values. Were my sources really that bad? Did they really "arouse revulsion?" Did you read the sources to analyse whether the were unreliable? Or was it a cheap effort of using strong words in order to persuade readers that you won?
Posted by Aithlin 7 years ago

Let's respond to your claims in the comments.

You clearly write that my 'spill is likely' argument is so horrible that it should land you the 3 points without even a word said. However:

1) You did not provide one argument in the entire debate. This is relevant because you accepted the debate on the provision that the burden of proof is shared.
2) You provided no reasons why the 'spill is likely' argument is that horrible.
3) Even if that argument was so horrible, I still had the global warming argument which has not even been touched on.

Spelling and Grammar
1) Focussing is used much more often in British English. ( live in Australia. We follow British English for the large part. If your argument for this was valid, then spelling 'color' as 'colour' would entail that I lose spelling and grammar points.
2) I will grant that I made a mistake on 'southerly.' However, that makes virtually no difference to who should get the S&G points. You also made a grammatical error when you wrote "And all the forfeit was was me letting Con vent, you don't interrupt a man when he's acting like Con was, so conduct should also go to me." The comma between 'vent' and 'you' is an example of the "Separating correlated pairs" segment of this web-page (

1) Pro has failed to provide a single reason why my sources were horrible. I do not believe that Scientific American is an unreliable source.

1) You forfeited, and did not provide any positive case for your position. You have essentially completely wasted my time.
2) The " too" 'post' seemed to be a very derogatory comment. I interpreted this as being "your arguments are boring."
3) I don't see anything wrong with my conduct. I wrote that you didn't intend to give any arguments on the basis of the " too
Posted by Aithlin 7 years ago
Even if Pro provides an argument in the final round, he still loses conduct points. I made it quite clear in the First Round that no new arguments can be written in the final round.
Posted by Aithlin 7 years ago
Really? Does no-one want to take this?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 7 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: This was just... Wow. OK, I'm awarding the full 7 points to Aithlin. Con didn't post any argument at all. His last round was full of new rebuttals that were all simply assertions. He posted 0 sources, forfeited essentially 2 rounds, and then proceeded to dismiss every argument Con made without addressing a single one. I'd just call S&G a tie, but Pro's conduct was so bad that I'll just add it in as a second conduct point for Con.
Vote Placed by Romanii 7 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: There is no doubt who won this debate. Pro forfeited almost all the rounds and then provided his only argument in Round 4 so that Con couldn't respond.

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