Tragic as the disaster in Arkansas is, it could have been much worse. If the Keystone XL is built, it's a certainty that someday, somewhere, even more devastating spills will happen. It's only a matter of time.
Despite what oil companies like Exxon want you to believe, oil pipelines leak. It's what they do. What's happening in Arkansas right now could be the future for communities from North Dakota to Texas if President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline.
If we listen to the top climate scientists, we should leave the tar sands where they are, underground. But others will still insist we are going to keep burning oil for years to come, so aren't we better off using Canadian oil rather than Middle Eastern oil? No.
On March 1, the State Department issued a report raising no objection to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. There will be a 45-day period for public comments and then President Obama will decide whether or not to approve it. His decision will hinge on three critical considerations.
As for natural gas, why should taxpayers foot the bill to help the industry be more responsible? If gas companies don't adopt more responsible production practices voluntarily, the government's job is not to write them a check; it's to implement regulations that protect the public.
In the weeks and months to come, we at Ocean Conservancy will dive deeper to take a very hard look at carbon pollution. For instance, what impact might the Keystone XL pipeline, if approved, have on the ocean?
Why aren't all Keystone XL opponents loudly demanding that President Obama stop construction of the pipeline's 485-mile southern leg that is destroying the lives of our fellow Americans in Texas and Oklahoma?
A carbon tax is the only step that truly enlists markets in the fight against climate change. As fossil-fuel companies are forced to pay for the damage their carbon is doing to the planet, the price of their products would rise.
Instead of speculating how Canada or its tar sands industry might react to a rejection of Keystone XL, the president should ask, "how will the world react?" The whole world, after all, will have to deal with the mess of climate change.