Put that in your pipe

The Southern Nevada Water Authority’s proposed pipeline is not the only one under fire. The debate over the Keystone XL oil pipeline has reached a breaking point. Last week, President Obama threatened to veto House Republicans’ plan to latch the project to Obama’s proposed payroll tax cuts, an attempt to prevent his opposition of the pipeline. Republicans have been adamant about the construction of the pipeline, insisting that it would provide jobs and oil for the country, but protests have erupted around the nation based on fear that the project will result in disastrous oil spills and will encourage American reliance on fossil fuels rather than finding alternative and renewable energy sources.

The pipeline would transport oil 1,700 miles from Alberta to refineries in the Gulf Coast. According to scientists at NASA, the amount of crude oil available in the pipeline would be enough to raise the carbon dioxide levels an additional 200 parts per million (ppm). A 2009 study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association states that the earth’s CO2 levels are currently at 392 ppm, the highest amount in nearly 800,000 years. CO2 levels are directly linked to global warming patterns.

Other pipelines built by TransCanada, the corporation behind the Keystone project, have already resulted in minor oil spills. The proposed pipeline would run through the Ogallala Aquifer, which crosses over eight states in the High Plains and holds over one quadrillion gallons of water (yes, a quadrillion). Evironmentalists are concerned that if an oil spill were to occur within the aquifer, much of that water—irrigated into neighboring states and used for consumption—would be contaminated.