Posts Tagged ‘keystone’

This is a guest blog by departing Public Citizen intern Chantelle B.

In recent months, Nebraska’s government has taken a strong stand against the Keystone XL Pipeline’s route, which currently passes through the ecologically fragile Sandhills region and North America’s largest aquifer – the Ogallala – which, if polluted, could have disastrous effects. The majority of this aquifer lies under Nebraska, and provides the state with 70% of its freshwater.  But the Ogallala aquifer’s importance goes beyond Kansas.  It is one of the most important sources of water in the Plains Region, used for residential and industrial purposes as well as agriculture, the base of the economy in the area. Texas is one of the leading states irrigating from the aquifer, accounting for about 40% of Texas’ water use.  Officials in the Nebraskan State government, such as Governor David Heinman, have signed a bill to ensure that TransCanada will not be able to build their behemoth of a Pipeline through the precious Sandhills region.

On November 10th, President Obama delayed the date for granting TransCanada a permit to construct the Pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border until after the 2012 Presidential elections. One component of the President’s decision to postpone the Pipeline’s construction was to ensure a Department of State-approved rerouting that satisfies Nebraska’s demands. Unfortunately for the environment, Nebraskans are showing a proclivity to support the Pipeline generally, and only stress the environmental importance of the delicate Ogallala and Sandhills region. TransCanada is set to collaborate with the Nebraska department of environmental quality and the DoS, which will audit its alternate route to ensure it avoids the regions in question, making it only marginally more environmentally sound. However, TransCanada’s President for Energy and Oil Pipelines, Alex Pourbaix, still affirms his belief that the Pipeline would have been equally safe even if the original route were implemented.

Although a new route will protect the most ecologically sensitive locations in Nebraska, there remains the problem that a daughter project already in play, the Keystone 1 Pipeline in the northern Great Plains, has already exceeded its projected spill figures. Despite TransCanada’s prediction that this smaller pipeline would spill around 11 times throughout its lifetime of approximately 50 years, it has already had more than it’s lifetime number of spills within its first year of operation. So while the Sandhills region and Ogallala may be spared from catastrophe the land traversed in the new route will still be subject to as devastating a fate, like the 6 story geyser of diluted bitumen seen in the worst Keystone 1 spill.

Everyone in the way of this pipeline should become aware of the history of ecological damage these types of pipelines have already experienced.  And those of us near the terminous – where heavy crude oil refineries may be gearing up to refine this most polluting of all crudes, spilling more toxins into the air around Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur, TX or the ports will load large ships with the diluted bitumen and send them out into the Gulf of Mexico – well, we have other pollution worries to consider.

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Over 260,000 Americans have told the State Department that they do not want the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline to receive a permit. After two recent spills (and averaging one a month) on the 1 year old Keystone pipeline (Keystone XL would extend that pipeline into Texas) it seems obvious that Americans are waking up to just how bad this project is.

Check out KETK for their recent story on the spill and overview of the project.

The State Department will decide soon on whether or not to grant this project the necessary “presidential permit” it needs for construction from Canada down through the central US. The future of energy lies in renewable energy – and that is where we should be investing in new infrastructure. This pipeline takes us in exactly the opposite direction towards a dirtier and more destructive fossil fuel. Contact your congressman and ask them to pressure the White House and State Department not to grant this permit.


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U.S. Stops Keystone I Line from Restarting After 12th Spill in 12 Months, Days Before Comment Period Ends on Keystone XL

For over a year, TransCanada has been trying to get its hands on a Presidential Permit from the U.S. Department of State to extend its Keystone I tar sands pipeline with a pipeline called Keystone XL. That extension would start in Alberta, Canada, link on to Keystone I in the Midwest and attach on its Southern end in Oklahoma before it heads through Texas and ends at Gulf Coast refineries. During this same year, though, TransCanada’s Keystone I line has been leaking at an alarming rate.

It’s a fact that tar sands pipelines leak at 16 times more per mile due to internal corrosion, and something that has long been a concern of citizens opposed to the Keystone XL line slated to come through Texas. Today, though, TransCanada’s inability to operate Keystone I without averaging less leaks than one per month has finally gotten to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and United States Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) who today issued an order of corrective action against TransCanada.

TransCanada’s Keystone I line sprung its twelfth leak in nearly twelve months last weekend in Kansas to the tune of 2,100 gallons, only two weeks after a 21,000 gallon leak in North Dakota and ten other smaller leaks.

PHMSA’s statement today notified the public that “Effective immediately, this order prevents TransCanada from restarting operations on their Keystone crude oil pipeline until PHMSA is satisfied with the ongoing repairs and is confident that all immediate safety concerns have been addressed. PHMSA issued the order in connection with two incidents in May involving oil leaks from small diameter pump station pipe fittings,” and DOT’s official letter to TransCanada also reads that “the continued operation of the  pipeline  without  corrective  measures  would  be  hazardous  to  life,  property  and  the environment.”

This corrective order from PHMSA comes just three days before the 45-day comment period on Keystone XL’s Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) ends on Monday, June 6th.

STOP Founder and President David Daniel had the following to say: “The deck of evidence is stacked against TransCanada. It would be absolutely absurd for the State Department to permit Keystone XL now. The EPA spoke out against Keystone XL’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement and now PHMSA is having to step in to protect citizens from TransCanada’s Keystone I line. For the State Department to allow Keystone XL to go through would be a slap in the face to not only these agencies but to the concerns and livelihoods of millions of Americans, as it too would be, in the Department of Transportation’s own words ‘hazardous to life, property, and the environment.’ TransCanada cannot keep getting away with this. We ask the State Department to take the Department of Transportation’s action today as a warning and say no to a Presidential Permit for Keystone XL.”

To make comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, you can visit http://www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/clientsite/keystonexl.nsf?Open or contact STOP at [email protected] or 409.550.7961 for more information.

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keystone 500 barrel spill

Spill Site 2 Days Later (click to enlarge)

On Saturday, May 7 the Keystone pipeline had a major rupture and spill near Cogswell, North Dakota spewing 500 barrels of oil in a geyser twice the height of the surrounding trees (about 60 feet). This pipeline is owned by TransCanada, the same company proposing to build the Keystone XL pipeline (an extension of the Keystone pipeline) down through Oklahoma and Texas.

Here is a video from WDAY Channel 6 out of Fargo, North Dakota covering the spill. The pipeline spill was the lead story.

What this video doesn’t cover is that this was not ordinary crude oil, but rather a far more toxic and dangerous substance called “tar sands” oil, mined in the vast tar sands strip mines in Alberta, Canada. It should also be remembered that this pipeline is only a year old (more or less brand new) and has already had 10 other “small” spills. Such a deplorable record should be sending off massive alarm bells for the expansion project proposed for Texas.

TransCanada is a private, foreign (Canadian) company which has been granted, for some reason, powers of eminent domain throughout the US – including Texas. This company has been using the threat of this power to bully landowners into signing contracts they do not want to sign. The permit for their expansion project, the Keystone XL, is still pending at the State Department. In light of this recent spill there is no way the state department should consider granting this irresponsible and reckless company the ability to further endanger the lives and well-being of Texans and US citizens.

As Alex Moore with Friends of the Earth recently stated, “Nobody should have to wake up on a Saturday morning to the sight of oil spraying 60 feet into the air near her home.”

For more information on tar sands and what makes it the “dirtiest oil on the planet,” see some of our previous blog posts on the subject:

Tailing Pond Duck Deaths

Stop Tarsands Oil Pipeline

Voices From Texas Landowners

Stop TransCanada

Bad Faith Tactics

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Thall shalt not take

As you may have read in an earlier blog, Texas landowners who live in the path of the proposed Keystone Pipeline route may be dealing with the threat of eminent domain to force them into a contract.  If the landowner doesn’t come to an agreement with the entity intent on “taking” their land, then they might be put in the position of hiring an attorney to fight condemnation proceedings against their property in court.  If you think you might be facing such a fight, we thought we’d post what we know about this process. (more…)

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