Opponents of the Keystone pipeline often seem to assume that stopping the project would do something it simply will not: stop oil sands development in Alberta. Fortunately, Science, one of the most respected scientific journals on earth, published an article that put the issue in context:
“The administration should face down critics of the project, ensure that environmental standards are met and then approve it. As Nature has suggested before … the pipeline is not going to determine whether the Canadian tar sands are developed or not.”
Oil sand development will happen regardless of whether Keystone is built. It will simply be sold off at a lower price without the pipeline. Even if one believes that oil sands development is on balance negative (despite evidence to the contrary), stopping Keystone will do nothing to mitigate any negative effects of the oil sands. Instead of knee jerk opposition, environmentalists should attempt to work with government to ensure that legitimate concerns are addressed.