Transporting over 590,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to the US, the Keystone Oil Pipeline has been in the headlines for years. Potential leaks in the pipeline threaten the land of tribal communities, put entire ecosystems at risk, and could have deleterious effects on groundwater and farmland.
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New reports claim the pipeline leak in South Dakota last November spilled a staggering 407,400 gallons of oil onto agricultural land, which @SmithsonianMagazine notes is the seventh largest onshore oil or petroleum spill since 2010. In the eyes of many, the spill–which is not the pipeline’s first–reinforced the fact that harm to the land could quickly become a reality. In this situation, it’s important to ask what’s at stake? Do the economic benefits of the pipeline outweigh its potential detrimental human and land impacts?