Problems Between Canada, US Regarding Keystone XL Pipeline

A recent article outlined the problems that the Keystone XL pipeline has posed for both the United States and Canada. It all stems from the tar sands – located in Alberta, Canada – that contain an estimated 170 billion barrels of bitumen. This measures as the 3rd largest oil reserve in the world.

This reserve produced over $90 billion in gross domestic product for Canada in 2012; this number is expected to continue rising due to claims by Stephen Harper’s administration. His administration has said that it wants to turn Canada into an “international energy superpower.”

People throughout the United States have been protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.

People throughout the United States have been protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.

Here is where the aforementioned Keystone XL pipeline comes into play. Stretching from Alberta all the way (when completed) to Nebraska, this pipeline has accounted for numerous protests from Americans. The pipeline has been delayed several times due to assessment by the US government on the amount of environmental impact the pipeline will place on American soil. There seems to be no end in sight for the deliberations. 

The Keystone XL pipeline, which was originally proposed in 2008, is actually just a portion of the Keystone system. This system is already over 2,000 miles long, stretching from Hardisty all the way down to Houston, Texas. Keystone XL would be the fourth phase of the project. 

Jordan Larson, writer for the Pacific Standard, noted that delays in negotiations with the U.S. might be the result of Canada’s “declining environmental track record and its international reputation.”

Larson notes that since Harper’s Conservative Party won a parliamentary majority in 2011, Canada’s emphasis on environmental science issues quickly declined. Cuts on funding have undermined environmental causes throughout the country.  Larson points to research projects such as the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Lab (PEARL) that have either ended abruptly or were turned over to a third-party organization. The glaring budget bill, C-38, amended a couple dozen laws that were concerned with environmental protection and regulation. 

Bloomberg investigated some of the issues between the U.S. and Canada in regards to the Keystone XL project. It noted that Canada’s new approach to environmental issues is causing a controversy between the two countries, as Obama has particular issues with Canada’s ignorance to regulate emissions from the pipeline. 

As a result, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has placed two new conditions on the Keystone XL pipeline. It is forcing TransCanada (the company constructing the pipeline) to implement a quality management system. Also, TransCanada must have a third-party inspection company present at the site, monitoring its progress. 

We’ll see how Canada and the U.S. progress with Keystone XL. Canada has already proposed four other pipelines within the country’s borders – it seems that they’ll be moving forward with their oil industry whether the U.S. is involved or not.

from Danny Yehia

Interior Lighting Guidelines – Each Room is Different

When it comes to interior lighting, you need to treat each room differently. There are two guidelines that every interior designer should follow: mixing light sources at different levels, and providing the appropriate amount of light given the tasks that you’ll be preforming in that space. You need different levels of lighting for getting dressed in your bedroom than you do for cooking in the kitchen.


Overhead lighting is best for the kitchen. Since your primary task is cooking or preparing food, you want the lights overhead so that you are not casting shadows on the food while it’s being prepared. It’s a good idea to invest in a dimmer so that you can turn it up when you’re cooking, or keep it low when you’re just grabbing a late-night snack. You also, however, want to illuminate work surfaces by using a sturdy table lamp and under-cabinet lights.

Dining Room

You always want to make sure that the table is the brightest spot in the room. It draws people towards the food and makes them feel comfortable sitting around the table. This is why chandeliers are popular in dining rooms – it’s not just to make them look extravagant, but also to illuminate the table as best as possible. You want to use indirect lighting to address the rest of the room. Have light bouncing off of the walls, illuminating a china closet, etc.

Living Room

When addressing the living room, it’s smart to illuminate three of the four corners. Don’t just throw light into a corner, however; focus at least one of those lights on an object. This could be a work of art, a plant or anything else you want to draw attention to. Within the room, using a combination of table and floor lamps will provide you with light that is suitable for reading on the couches. Have some lamps directing light upwards, others directing it downwards. Also, putting downward-glowing lamps on a three-way switch will allow you to increase the light for reading.


A bedroom should be thought of as the place where you feel most comfortable. Your bedroom should give off a warm, snug feeling. This is achieved by placing lamps around the bed that do not point directly at it. Also, make sure that you angle recessed fixtures towards the dressing area – you do not want these fixtures pointing at the bed. It’s ideal to also have a small lamp that mimics candlelight. Something about a candle just gives off a cozy feeling.


You always want sconces located around the mirror. Whether you’re shaving or applying makeup, you want to make sure that you have a combination of sidelights and overhead lights to fill in any shadows that are on your face. The rest of the room should be illuminated as well (some of us like to read while on the toilet). If you’re bathroom is larger, it’s smart to have a light directly over the shower.

from Danny Yehia