CalPIRG petitions against Keystone pipeline

Ten members of the UC Berkeley chapter of CalPIRG rallied in front of Sather Gate Thursday against the construction of a controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

At the rally, CalPIRG initiated a petition addressed to President Obama to halt the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project that would carry about 700,000 to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada into the United States but that remains controversial due to environmental and energy-dependence concerns. CalPIRG hopes to collect 500 signatures within a two-day period.

“There are lots of issues with this pipeline being built,” said Allison Hughes, campaign manager for CalPIRG’s efforts to stop the construction. “If it spills, it will cost a lot to clean, and we would be investing in a resource that we don’t need, and we can use cleaner sources of energy that would be more beneficial to the environment.”

According to a statement by TransCanada Corporation, the energy corporation responsible for the management of the project, the pipeline would create jobs for about 9,000 Americans. However, CalSERVE Senator Nolan Pack believes that these jobs will not have a long-term impact on the economy.

“These jobs are not in the long term because the pipeline will be built and then it’s done,” Pack said. “No one has realized that even though this pipeline will create jobs for people, it is also taking land from farmers, and by taking land, you are taking the livelihood of many people.”

TransCanada said in the statement that it will implement a detailed emergency response plan if leakage occurs and will be held responsible for the cleanup of the land where the oil spills as well as compensation related to oil released from the pipeline.

Pack said that the building of this pipeline is a step backward and called for an increased focus on the usage and development of new energy resources. Last month, the ASUC Senate passed SB 10, a bill that directs the ASUC to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

“(SB 10) shows how we are trying to divest from old energy resources and use new energy resources,” Pack said. “The Keystone pipeline is deeply investing us in an energy source that is outdated, and we are trapping ourselves in this form of energy when there are so many other options.”

Contact Seif Abdelghaffar at [email protected].