No to Keystone XL, an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen.

A TV Play For AHAmedia


Moderator: Good evening, and we’re back once again with our popular new game show, “Welcome To Your Death.” Our theme, as detailed in Ronald Wright’s 132-page book, A Short History Of Progress, is how civilization is perishing by its neglect of its environment, as many civilizations have before it. We just covered the moribund pollution of potable water by “fracking,” and now we’re onto how we’re killing ourselves with catastrophic oil spills. (Our love of money, as manifested by extracting profits as fast as possible by whatever means possible from non-renewable energy resources, particularly those which are oil-based, is unparalleled. Yay!) Would the two team representatives come forward and take your positions in front of the red buttons, please.


[Two people join the moderator, sitting at the table, one on each side of the moderator. They will simulate hitting the red answer buttons by slapping their hands on the table surface.]


Moderator: “‘q.” Now [is interrupted by one of the participants]


Participant 1: Excuse me. Did you say “‘q”? Exactly what does that mean? Is that supposed to be the short form of some well-known nasty expletive? Because if that is the case, I’ll tell you to your face, you’re nothing but an a$$hole.


Moderator: Please allow me to correct my lax enunciation. “Thank you” is what I meant to say.


Participant 1: I withdraw my comment. Sorry.


Moderator: Now, first question. What are the dangers of pipelines carrying conventional crude versus bitumen crude?


Participant 1 [slaps table first, answers]: Bitumen crude is corrosive and is heated to high temperatures to thin it to facilitate transportation, so as a result, pipelines carrying this type of crude rupture more often than do conventional oil pipelines.


Moderator: A point to Team 1. Next question: are there any numbers on pipeline ruptures?


Participant 2: Alberta Oilsands pipelines (which carry bitumen crude) have ruptured approximately 16 times more often than US pipelines (which are mostly conventional crude pipelines).


Moderator: A point to Team 2. Next question: what type of pipeline is the proposed Keystone XL supposed to be?


Participant 1: The proposed Keystone XL pipeline, if built, will be a bitumen crude pipeline coming out of the Alberta Oilsands.


Moderator: A point to Team 1. Next question: what risks are associated with a bitumen pipeline rupture?


Participant 2: Bitumen crude is heavy. If it spills, it penetrates the ground right to the water table, which is contaminated and then is difficult to clean up. Oil contamination has been associated with carcinogenic health risks, such as cancer, unfortunately demonstrated in the Athabasca River First Nations settlements (bordering the Alberta Oilsands) and also in Nigeria, where oil pollution has gone on for 50 years.


Moderator: A point to Team 2. Next question: how often might a Keystone XL rupture occur?


Participant 1: One scientist, working from known data, estimates it will happen about twice a year.


Moderator: A point to Team 1. Next question: are there any other risks with building Keystone XL?


Participant 2: Keystone XL will increase carbon pollution, with the equivalent impact of adding about 5 million cars on the road.


Moderator: Good on both Teams, which are tied in points. So we see that building the Keystone XL pipeline comes down to sacrificing lives for oil. If one wants to be a god and make life and death decisions involving lives, then deciding to build the Keystone XL pipeline (or any other bitumen crude pipeline) is the right ticket. Thank you to both Teams for coming in today. In our next edition of “Welcome To Your Death,” the topic will be: “Monsanto—will its creepy GMO food alterations turn you into a spider?" Au revoir, et bonne chance!




Information sources:




click on “all tags”; then “oilspill” and “pipelinesafety”; also:




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