Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Summary of Jan 16th 2015 B&P Meeting

January 16th was the first Bay & Paul meeting of 2015! In this meeting the new cohort of Bay & Paul (B&P) members were finally able to meet with the senior B&P to begin thinking about environmental issues that are making a name for themselves in U.S. Politics and International Trade agreements. But this meeting was also dedicated to getting to know each member of the two newly conjoined groups; the topic we learned about in this meeting was the Keystone XL pipeline.
Prior to beginning our research, Andrea asked each of us how much we knew about the Keystone XL pipeline, our responses ranged from knowing a lot about the XL pipeline to just hearing about it for the first time in that meeting. After watching a short video explaining the logistics of the pipeline, we all took the time to share out questions that we still had about the pipeline or new questions that arose after watching the video. When we read all of the questions, it was evident our inquiries fell under three main categories; the impact on international trade (specifically the Middle East), the impact on the environment, and the domestic impact of the pipeline.
According to our interest we split into three groups and began researching and myth busting, mainly figuring out the reality behind political propaganda. I was in the international trade impact group, and despite knowing a good deal about the logistics of the pipeline, I found out many of my assumptions about the impact of the Keystone pipeline on Middle East oil trade was proven to be false. After reading abstracts and pages of research and predictions about the Keystone XL pipeline written by the Department of Energy and other bureaucracies, I was surprise to learn that the XL pipeline would have little to no impact on trade with the Middle East and developing countries. In fact the XL pipeline would actually cause an increase in demand for oil GLOBALLY, for every one barrel of increased production there would be a .6 barrel increase in demand. This would result in TransCanada (the company owning the Keystone Pipeline) to increase production of crude oil subsequently causing an increase of CO2 into the atmosphere ranging from 0 to 110 million additional tons.
The environmental group found that there have been frequent spillages from the Keystone Pipeline, one of which no one knows how to stop. This pipeline also will be crossing through Native American Reservations and National Parks, the reservation is home to roughly 30+ tribes. The domestic group found that most of the oil produced would not be using in the U.S., rather it would be traded internationally and secondly it would have little to no impact in gas prices within the U.S.
It was interesting to begin really researching and understanding the complexities of environmental issues, however what it made me realize is how difficult it is for a common citizen to take the time to research, develop a solid understanding of a political or social issue and use that knowledge to create their own opinions. It took B&P roughly 90 minutes to even hit on all of the major issues surrounding the Keystone Pipeline. For an average American with children to take care of and a job to hold down, that is a lot of time to commit to just ONE issue in the government. With that in mind I now understand why many Americans are in favor of the Keystone pipeline, political propaganda is not fact, business ads are not fact, but if that is all that a person is surrounded by... perhaps they can not help but believe it.

-Mairead Brennan

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