By Alejandra Rosero
In these last few days I have been noticing something really strange. Everyone in the United States seems quite concerned about human rights issues worldwide and many have been actively advocating for the rights of people in places such as Venezuela and Ukraine. However, I have not heard much about the massive protests taking place throughout the United States against the Keystone XL Pipeline. Just two days ago nearly 400 students were arrested in Washington DC for peaceful protests against what could be one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the United States. At the beginning I thought that the majority of the people did not care about our environmental rights; however, then I understood that I was completely wrong. This weekend I conducted clandestine interviews to some of my friends and family members through informal conversations inquiring their opinion about the Keystone XL Pipeline. The majority of them had no idea what I was talking about. As soon as I explained a little about what was going on, they quickly became frightened and worried about it. This is when I concluded that the reason for their lack of interest is not that they do not care. Instead, I realized that the real reason is that mainstream corporate media is avoiding this issue in order to protect economic and political interests against the well being of the environment. Therefore, I felt compelled to do an extensive research in order to provide a short explanation to this complex issue so we can unite and advocate for our environmental rights.
What is the Keystone XL Pipeline? It is a project that consists of a pipeline that will transport approximately 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil from Canada to the Golf of Mexico. But what is tar sands oil? It is the most dirty and toxic type of oil in the world. It produces “14 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the average oil used in the U.S.”Additionally, it has been estimated that it will emit “at least 30 percent more CO2 per ton than an equivalent amount of the lowest quality mined coals.” And what is the problem with that? The problem is that it is going to negatively affect the environment greatly. This process will accelerate global warming and will contaminate with toxic and deadly fuels the air and water of the United States. In addition, it will destroy great parts of the Alberta’s Boreal Forest, one of the largest habitats for wildlife population, since most of the tar sands oil is found under it. But would it be good for American society since it would create jobs? Yes, it would create jobs but temporary jobs. It has been estimated that it will create around 3,900 jobs for the one-year duration of the construction. However, it is also estimated that it will only create 50 jobs during its operation. Is this a sufficient justification to allow the approval of the “largest carbon bomb on the planet,” as described by many climate scientists? I do not think so. Can we do something about it? Yes, President Obama has not yet decided whether to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. Therefore, we must join anti-Keystone XL Pipeline campaigns and protests in order to show the United States government that we do care about our environmental rights, about the well being of our planet and about our future generations. We have the responsibility NOW to think beyond the present and find sustainable solutions in order to improve instead of degenerate our existing planet.
About the author:
Alejandra Rosero graduated with a Juris Doctor from St. Thomas University School of Law on May 2013 and completed a Master of Laws in Intercultural Human Rights. Alejandra has a strong commitment towards social, economic and environmental justice. Such commitment has been reflected and expanded throughout her academic and professional experience. She has worked for different international organizations including Grupo de Mujeres de la Argentina, an NGO based in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Pax Romana at the United Nations in New York. She has also worked as an editor for an honors organization called Intercultural Human Rights Law Review.
Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith, Labor Network for Sustainability, Pipeline Climate Disaster: The Keystone XL Pipeline and Labor, http://www.labor4sustainability.org/articles/pipeline-climate-disaster-the-keystone-xl-pipeline-and-labor/
Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzales, Democracy Now, Bill McKibben on Fight Against Keystone XL, Fossil Fuel Divestment and Obama’s Failures on Climate, http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/13/bill_mckibben_on_fight_against_keystone
Greenpeace, Tar Sands and Boreal Forest: Stop the Tar Sands, http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/Global/canada/report/2010/4/BorealForest_FS_Footnote_rev_4.pdf
Wendy Koch, Would Keystone pipeline unload “carbon bomb” or job boom?, USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/03/01/keystonexls-myths-debunked/5651099/
David Biello, How Much Will Tar Sands Oil Add to Global Warming, Scientific American, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/tar-sands-and-keystone-xl-pipeline-impact-on-global-warming/