The construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on American soil, a political and environmental topic that has been discussed since 2012, was rejected by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, Nov. 6.
If passed, the pipeline would have created a more direct route for oil to travel from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska, according to TransCanada. Its rejection has spurred both supporters and opposers in the Western community to voice their sides.
President of Western’s Students for Renewable Energy Julianna Fischer, said that while the decision is a step forward in the right direction, the fact that environmental issues like the this pipeline are a topic for debate is pathetic on behalf of those who were for it.
“I think people are becoming more aware of issues because things like the Keystone pipeline are being highlighted as figureheads of something tangible that you can stop,” Fischer said. “It’s really all about money for them, they’ve made investments and they want to get a return on their investments.”
Audrey Taylor, a professor of accounting and who has attended several sustainability events this year, said that creation of the Keystone XL pipeline makes the most sense, as other forms of shipping oil are more environmentally hazardous.
Although Taylor admits that she is no scientist, she said that if communities are going to assume something will go wrong, then a pipeline would be the easiest to contain.
“I think there’s extra science there that is not being highlighted because it’s not the majority view,” Taylor said.
One of the Vice Presidents for Students for Renewable Energy Galen Herz, said that to simplify this topic into a political scuffle would be an oversimplification of a very complicated situation.
“The common sense here is that it’s as simple as keeping fossil fuels in the ground,” Herz said. “We know there’s only so much carbon you can burn so we really shouldn’t be continuing to expand fossil fuel infrastructure.”
Fischer agreed that the next step in this environmental battle is to take victories like the Keystone XL rejection to an international level at the Conference of Parties in Paris in December, she said. Obama will be representing the U.S. at the conference.
Herz said that there is a responsibility for the U.S. to set a standard for the rest of the world with respect to climate change.
“It’s a good thing these negotiations are happening, but we’re not putting our faith in them; we’re putting our faith in people and communities that are taking action at the local level,” Herz said.
Herz and Fischer agreed they speak to the power of everyday people and college students, as they have the most effective voice in the ongoing struggle for environmental awareness, they said.