Economic lifeline or climate peril? East African pipeline is a new flashpoint
The 900-mile pipeline would bring needed revenue to Uganda and Tanzania. But it would disrupt thousands of lives and key wildlife habitat—to say nothing of its climate impact.
On a map, the proposed pipeline resembles an elongated frying pan, unfolding in a giant arc across the eastern third of Africa. The oil wells that will feed it begin a short trip down the Nile from Uganda’s Murchison Falls, where the world’s longest river crashes through a narrow gorge with a force that causes the surrounding earth to tremble.
The pipeline itself—planned for completion by 2025-—will then plunge south, underground, through chimpanzee-inhabited forests, across the equator, and under rivers and papyrus swamps that drain into Africa’s largest lake, Victoria. Over the Tanzanian border, it will veer east and traverse small towns, family farms, and savannahs roamed by lions and elephants before reaching the coral reefs and mangroves of the turquoise