Students protest proposed Keystone Pipeline

By Mary Reines

Most students were simply eating their lunches at Earthfoods Café on Feb. 9. But environmental science major Katie MacDonald did not come to the campus eatery to have lunch. She had another agenda.

Mary Reines/Collegian

Walking onto a small stage, she spoke out against the construction of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline – a proposed pipeline that would carry 700,000 barrels of crude or unrefined petroleum from Alberta, Canada to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and create 20,000 jobs, according an article from the Boston Globe published on Jan. 18.

“We’re here to say we’re not putting up with that, we don’t want the pipeline.  This is our country, you answer to us, not big oil!” shouted MacDonald.

The Globe also said in January, “President Barack Obama denied a permit for the pipeline, and will let the company file a revised route that avoids an environmentally sensitive area in Nebraska.”

Despite the Obama administration’s opposition to the bill, both the Senate and House have continued working on legislation that would, as MacDonald put it, “push the pipeline through.”

Sen. Scott Brown is in favor of the pipeline. In an interview with Greta Van Susteren from Fox News on Jan. 20, Brown said that he thinks it will create jobs and decrease U.S. dependency on foreign oil.

“I think it’s a no-brainer,” said Brown in the interview. “We need to step back from our dependence of foreign oil. And Canada is going to develop that technology, and either we get it from Canada, who is one of our, if not the best trading partner in the region. I would rather develop that north-south relationship than the east-west relationship, because when we are paying money to entities countries that want to kill us, I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

MacDonald urged students to take out their cell phones and call Brown to protest his decision.

“If you don’t want this dirty pipeline, if you want clean renewable jobs and you want a better future for our planet and our nation, whip out your phone,” she said.

MacDonald isn’t the only one concerned about the pipeline. Fellow activist Sara Hopps said that it would run through the Ogallala aquifer, which is an underground source of water and, “one of the last freshwater aquifers that’s really safe.”

She said that gas and oil companies go to prospective pipeline areas and entice people with money. No one considers the effects that it would have on the land.

“The company’s doing it for money and the people need the money … you can’t see the effects right away,” said Hopps.

She asserted that this was just another way for oil companies to “take advantage of the knowledge that we don’t have.”

Another student, 22-year-old climate activist Lovis Axon, who founded Students for a Just and Stable Future, has reservations about the plan.

“It’s like continually drilling wells in the ocean when you know it’s not safe to do it,” he said.

Mary Reines can be reached [email protected].