A Short Keystone Update

As another summer winds down, it looks increasingly like a final decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project won’t arrive until next year. The State Department is currently finishing their assessment of the project, giving the Obama Administration time to confer with Canada (the pipeline would begin in Alberta, and would be owned by TransCanada, an Alberta company). So far, reports from the State Department have made no recommendation one way or the other, and President Obama has said that he would only approve the project after being assured that it would not “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

As time stumbles on, prospects for the project seem to be growing dimmer, as more and more environmentalists come out of the wood work to oppose it. And if a new study from Ted Genoways at On Earth is to believed, it’s with good reason. Looking at Port Arthur, TX, a hub of oil and gas refineries where the Keystone Pipeline would end, Genoways found that mortality rates from cancer are 40% higher in Port Arthur than the rest of Texas, while cancer rates among African Americans in Port Arthur are 15% higher than elsewhere in the state. Then there are the lesser-but-still-very-serious conditions like heart disease, skin disorders, muscle aches, etc. which are also higher in Port Arthur. This is all very troubling, and suggests that taking all the time needed to assess this project from every conceivable angle isn’t such a bad idea, after all.

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