Keystone XL highlights the harm the Senate’s ignorance

The Senate’s continued and deliberate rejection of experts should be a cause of concern.

Anant Naik

Climate change isn’t a political question. It’s a scientific question.

Recently, the Senate debated whether humans are the cause for climate change. It did so to justify some topics senators were debating regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. The proof for this is in the pudding: Days after the Senate voted against human-caused climate change, it used this impetus to force a bill to allow the Keystone XL pipeline.

The problem with the bill’s passage isn’t the legislation of the Keystone pipeline. It has to do with taking a scientific concept and debating it in the political sphere.

Are politicians qualified to talk about complex international issues? Are politicians well known for their intense, neutral research? The answer, of course, is no. Yet they took a political stance on a scientific question anyway.

We can all agree that deforestation and burning excess fossil fuels harms the environment. Even if humans aren’t responsible for this increase, we should still take environmentally sound policies into consideration. Even if we haven’t caused global warming doesn’t mean we can’t do anything to help reduce its impact.

This ruling also allows politicians to proxy the environmental debate surrounding the Keystone pipeline. Congress members in support of this bill argue that it will bring jobs to the United States and focus the effects on simple economics, even though many studies show that the Keystone XL pipeline project will not bring significant jobs.

Ignoring the environmental impacts is not a viable option. The pipeline, which could bring up to 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sand oil per day, could destroy many aquifers, harming our water supply. It will damage many wildlife habitats and trample vital farmland. The risk from oil spills would be catastrophic.

Fine, pass the Keystone pipeline bill. But do so after talking to climate scientists, considering all environmental harms and weighing all options. The president is likely to veto the Senate bill, but Congress members need to make sure that their actions are in the best interests of the people.