Thursday, November 17, 2011

Impacts: Coal Versus Oil Sands

Another article on Crosscut caught my eye this morning since it focuses on the impacts of coal export proposals versus the Canadian oil sands petroleum pipeline, called Keystone XL.
Check it out here.
The takeaway from this comparison is that both fossil fuel projects will have major new impacts on our shared environment.

If it comes down to a choice between these options, Keystone is the lesser of the two evils; mainly because it benefits the US by supplying oil for our habit from a near and friendly neighbor.

Also, the pipeline is a better conveyance method, providing a safe route is selected that avoids potentially catastrophic impacts to the huge Ogallala Acquifer, the primary source of fresh water over a multi-state area.

The fact that importing oil benefits us much more broadly than does exporting coal to China seems obvious, but in the end these are not competing ideas, they are separate proposals that have different impacts to widely different areas.

Sad, but true; both these reflect real world pressures that are difficult to avoid - at least for the present, until we can get serious about some other, more sustainable alternatives.