Pipeline Controversy in the News

Danielle Bettermann
Journalism and Environmental Studies, 2018

Research Paper: 


In 1962, Rachel Carson introduced to the general public the possible side effects of human pollution on the earth (Cushman 2014). Her well-researched book, “Silent Spring,” proved to have a large impact on the environmental movement and possibly influenced multiple environmental policy decisions. Since this time of environmental awareness, media coverage of environmental issues has become routine. 
Recently, a major environmental controversy involves expansions of natural gas pipelines in the United States and Canada. The Keystone XL Pipeline, which was proposed to run from Canada through the Midwest and end in Texas, stirred up many opinions among those possibly affected by the new infrastructure and the rest of the country.  
The media got involved in the action by covering the progress of the proposal while it attempted to gain approval from the United States national government, and even revealed some unknown facts to their readers through investigative reporting. During the approval process, Postmedia News gained access to “secret” documents through Canada’s access-to-information law, which stated that Canada, as well as the United States, were already experiencing the effects of climate change, concluding that any added infrastructure could worsen the conditions (Cushman 2014). 
Local and national news outlets both covered the Keystone Pipeline, and although other pipeline expansions might not be making national news, many local pipeline proposals are being followed by local news media. Members of the general public who only stay informed through the national news sources may overlook local coverage. Environmental change could be happening in their local area and affecting them without their knowledge.