In the editorial “Pipelines still the best way to move oil,” the Grand Forks Herald argues that our economy’s “thirst” for oil means that we will continue to transport oil “until it dries up.” Yet climate scientists declare that, if we satiate our thirst until it dries up, if we burn all known reserves of oil, gas and coal, the seas will rise over 200 feet.
The existing fossil fuel infrastructure is facilitating a climate emergency; inaction is not an option anymore. Not acting now to stop emitting greenhouse gases is irresponsible, immoral and completely ignores science.
We must transition away from fossil fuels and the pipelines that carry them. The Herald’s editorial is founded on a false premise: the impossibility of a world without oil. However, around Minnesota, renewables are becoming stronger than ever and Xcel Energy has committed to 100% carbon free electricity by 2030. After coal, tar sands are next on the chopping block, and, just like coal, will become economically inviable.
If Line 3 is not built, the volume of oil transported by rail will be minimal due to the high cost of that transportation mode making its price non-competitive. Pipeline oil contains chemicals such as benzine, seriously endangering wetlands, lakes, rivers, and watersheds. Tar sands oil, when transported in tanker cars, is less toxic and can be made semi-solid and more easily cleaned up in the event of an accident.
The recent spill in North Dakota makes visible the dangers of pipelines. Fossil fuels are not safe for the future, regardless of transportation modes. If there is good news for the people of Grand Forks, it is that companies offering sustainable energy options and are happy to provide local services, local infrastructure, good and stable local jobs, and a future for our species.