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Published: Monday, Nov. 28 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

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Rand
FLAGSTAFF, AZ

This reminds me quite a bit of the Las Vegas plan to pump Utah groundwater to feed its growth. In each case powerful special interests drive the proposals forward under the justification of economic growth. In each case an important aquifer is at risk. But only one case provides conservatives with a handy excuse to attack President Obama for political gain.

Frankly, anyone who skewers Obama for his opposition to the pipeline being routed through the Sand Hills should also rally in support of Las Vegas being able to tap Utah's aquifer. It's very much the same argument.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

How is pumping water from an aquifer in any way related to running a pipe-line across an aquifer? Even if the oil pipe-line broke and oil were spilled, it could be easily cleaned up BEFORE it contaminated the aquifer.

For those who don't know, oil and water don't mix. Take a half-full glass of water and add oil to it. The oil floats on top of the water. Then, whip the water and oil until it does mix. What natural "whip" could ever generate enough force to mix the oil the seeps into the ground with the water that lies under the ground?

We are sending over $1 BILLION per day to nations who support terrorists. We're spending $2 BILLION per day on a military that protects us from terrorists. Why not send that $1 BILLION for oil to our friends in Canada instead of sending it to our enemies?

Rand
FLAGSTAFF, AZ

Mike,
From what I've read the water table is quite close to the ground in the Sand Hills. There is no plausible guarantee that an oil spill could be cleaned up quickly enough to prevent contamination of the aquifer. And once contaminated, groundwater is very difficult to clean up.

As to oil and water not mixing?

Deepwater Horizon

Red Butte Creek

The fact that oil molecules do not chemically dissolve into water is NOT the point, and will not prevent ecological damage and contamination of the aquifer.

The pipeline can be diverted away from ecologically sensitive areas and the company has expressed a willingness to do so. This is a no-brainer. The U.S. can get its oil and Canada can make a killing by laying waste to its northern forests. Win-win, eh?

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

It was not concerns for the environment, but concerns for the environmentalists that torpedoed this win-win deal. Obama just picked a program to quash to throw a bone to his radical environmental base.

There are no valid scientific, economic, or social concerns, only left-wing political ones.

atl134
Salt Lake City, UT

@Mike
"Even if the oil pipe-line broke and oil were spilled, it could be easily cleaned up BEFORE it contaminated the aquifer.
"

Considering the oil spills in the Gulf, in Lake Michigan, that other one near New Orleans, Yellowstone, and Red Butte (TWICE), I have a lot of trouble believing that statement. And here's what makes this even worse... cleaning up the mess after Red Butte Creek and the Yellowstone River is one thing... try cleaning up a mess involving a massive groundwater supply. That is way more complex than cleaning a river.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

"Even if the oil pipe-line broke and oil were spilled, it could be easily cleaned up BEFORE it contaminated the aquifer."

Pretty sure BP was saying the exact same thing...

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

Rand,

The oil sands mines are really big. No doubt about it. But they're a minute fraction of a percentage of what the boreal forest covers in Canada. Agriculture, paper and lumber production eat way more of the forest than the oil mines will. The pipeline can be diverted away from the ogallala aquifer but if approval based on that drags on for years it can be diverted to Terrace, BC, and into tankers hired by Sinopec.

Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT

Keystone's potential for spills is definitely a concern. There's also the broader issue about what our future holds in terms of "what" will power our transportation future -- oil or electricity? Decisions today will have impacts 50 years from now. Think about how our building of nuclear power plants in the 1960s still haunts us today with waste and "Black Swan" events that engineers 50 years ago said would never happen -- but do (e.g., Three Mile Island, Chernoble, Fukushima). Or how uranium companies went backrupt, never to clean up their tailings and left them for Uncle Sam to clean up (e.g., Moab, other superfund sites).

Keystone is a similar situation. Its construction is likely to increase our dependency on oil for another 50 years (delay of innovation, complacency about our oil addiction) while other countries will adopt cleaner, more efficient -- and ultimately cheaper -- options, such as plug-in electric or natural gas vehicles.

What makes electric vehicles so promising is that as our electricity becomes increasingly renewable, it makes our transporation fuel demand increasingly clean and domestic. Electricity revenue streams will increasingly go to our local rural communities (for wind, solar, geothermal) to benefit Americans rather than to Canada or the Mideast.

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: ". . . construction is likely to increase our dependency on oil . . . ."

Finally, a liberal greenie with a little honesty, anyway.

There's no valid reason to fear contamination of ANY underground aquifer by ANY pipeline. Note that, since oil floats on top of water, it's not considered a serious danger to underground aquifers.

At least by anyone with an ounce of honesty.

The real nub of the issue is that radical greenies want to force us to convert to their darling -- "renewable" electricity, though no such thing is currently in existence.

Radical greenies' disingenuous objections drove the Obama administration to placing disingenuous political roadblocks in the way of this win-win deal.

There simply is no valid argument that the pipeline would pose the slightest risk to any aquifer, anywhere on the planet. Greenies know this, it's just that most won't admit it.

Because they're disingenuous.

Sensible Scientist
Rexburg, ID

First, risk of a pipeline rupture large enough to pollute water supplies has to be calculated. The pipeline may never have a major rupture -- that is the most probable scenario.

Second, the Ogallala aquifer in most places is hundreds of feet below the surface, where it is unlikely to be affected by an oil spill.

Third, as noted above, oil is very easy to clean out of groundwater. It's done all the time.

Finally, we REALLY NEED this pipeline! Yesterday!

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

Mike: The US buys more oil from Canada than it does from the middle east.

Shimlau
SAINT GEORGE, UT

Baron Scarpia: Have you tried to get one of those clean electric cars fixed? what about the batteries that they use? what about the hazardous waste produced when the batteries are manufactured and then have to be disposed of? I don't think that the technology is there for it all yet, and what percentage of the electricity produced in the US is renewable? just a few questions.

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