I have very strong misgivings about the XL pipeline proposal. Governor Brownback tells us that it will bring “good times” to Kansas but I have good reasons to doubt it.
When I was a child, some seventy years ago, we moved to a farm about ten miles north of the little town where I now reside. In an area adjoining our barn lot, there was a small pond of blue water. The clay for several yards around it was also blue and I questioned about it. I learned that it was a “sluice pond” from a gas well that had been attempted there many years before. Gas and oil occupy the same underground areas and one cannot drill for one without finding at least small quantities of the other. In that case, the water and oil had been drained off into this little pond in that unsuccessful search for gas. That same small piece of ground will still be blue and totally barren of vegetation, but that was a small operation. Periodically, some drillers will go back to old wells and try low-pressure “fracking” in order to salvage a bit more gas from that well. It was done a mile from our little lake house where we had a well of potable water. After the fracking, the well was hopelessly fouled…. forever!
In traveling the length of Kansas in order to visit your lovely state, I was struck by how green western Kansas has become with the assistance of the gigantic irrigation systems which allow the growth of many crops that are not thought to be indigenous to the climate. This cropland that spreads throughout the whole of western Kansas and Nebraska is the reason for the sobriquet of “Breadbasket to the World.” The fresh water which nourishes those fields as well as all the large cities west of Wichita is a large underground deposit, called the Oglalla Aquifer, dating back to the melting glaciers from the last Ice Age. We are aware that it will not last forever and so conservation practices have been instituted for its maximum protection.
Can one even imagine the disaster, not only to Kansas and Nebraska but to the world as a whole, should this precious water deposit become fouled by a massive leak of crude oil into its midst? A huge share of the wheat-producing land in the world would be instantly removed from availability, world famine would be increased exponentially and the entire region returned to empty desert. There is nobody who can guarantee that such a leak would never happen and there is not enough money in the world to compensate humanity for its loss.
Than, again, why should we tolerate it? This is Canada’s oil, bound for re-sale all over the world. There are refineries closer than Houston and no reason why Canada should not build their own refineries closer to the source of the product, and there must be routes for its disposal that do not endanger such a precious resource of an equally-precious deposit. I applaud the President for his courageous demand to wait for further investigation of the environmental impact before giving further consideration to tis potentially-disastrous project.