Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Keystone XL Pipeline: Classic Pipe Dream and Potential Disaster - Back in the Headlines

Keystone XL Pipeline: Still a Bad Idea
(Why Not to Canada's West Coast) 

A major spill here could endanger millions

This was a major post back on March 23, 2013 from the U. S. Senate here from Reuters, and now it is back in the name of President Donald J. Trump with his meat ax.  This is a long post for sure — but it needs to be restated again. Bear with me, thanks.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate easily passed on Friday a symbolic measure approving the Canada to Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline, a move backers said showed strong support for a bill that would give Congress power to green light the project later in the year.  The amendment to the budget plan, sponsored by Senator John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota, passed 62 to 37

It was symbolic because the budget is a blueprint that will not become law. But the measure was selected out of hundreds of others for a vote and was approved by a strong majority in the 100-seat chamber led by Democrats.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters earlier this month that the approval process for pipelines crossing international borders belongs with the State Department.

Symbolic vote???  Just what we need in this stalemated, gridlocked, do-nothing Congress, more “symbolism.” Yepper, that's the ticket. What a pathetic bunch we have in office that dares call them on the job for, as the GOP loves to say: “For the American people.” Give me a break. This is sickening. More on this issue follows this update.

Original post follows this and other updates (March 21, 2013): This critical update comes from Mother Jones here.  

Initially, my question is: What is really behind the movement to build this pipeline? So, consider my answer: Big oil money and political bullshitting of the public.

From the article:  Late on a Friday afternoon in early March, the State Department released a 2,000-page draft report downplaying the environmental risks of the northern portion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would ferry oil from Canada's tar sands to refineries in Texas, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  

However (and now the punch line) when it released the report, the State Department hid this important fact from the public: “Experts who helped draft the report had previously worked for TransCanada, the company looking to build the Keystone pipeline, and other energy companies poised to benefit from Keystone's construction.”

State released documents in conjunction with the Keystone report in which these experts' work histories were redacted so that anyone reading the documents wouldn't know who'd previously hired them. Yet un-redacted versions of these documents obtained by Mother Jones confirm that three experts working for an outside contractor had done consulting work for TransCanada and other oil companies with a stake in the Keystone's approval.

When the Keystone report — officially known as a “draft supplemental environmental impact statement” — was released, environmental activists ripped it as shoddy and misleading. Russ Girling, TransCanada's CEO, cheered the report as “an important step toward receiving President Barack Obama's final stamp of approval for the pipeline.”  

Outside contractors (managed by the State Department) wrote the Keystone report, which neither endorsed nor rejected the Keystone pipeline. The contractor that produced the bulk of the report was Environmental Resources Management (ERM), an international consulting firm. On the day the State Department published the Keystone impact report, the agency also released a cache of documents that ERM submitted in 2012 to win the contract to produce the Keystone environmental report. That cache included a 55-page filing in which ERM stated it had no conflicts of interests writing the Keystone report.

But there was something strange about ERM's conflict-of-interest filing: The bios for the ERM's experts were redacted. Apparently there are elements in the system who want this pipeline no matter the outcome. The public must resist with every fiber ... stay informed and up to date. 

First Update: The highlights of this story come from The Nation is here:

Addressing climate change was — quite remarkably — the most prominent policy vow President Obama made during his second inauguration (January 21, 2013). In part, President Obama said: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

The Obama administration’s resolve on this issue will be tested quickly when the Keystone XL pipeline comes up for review once again. Mr. Obama denied approval for the project in January 2012 over concerns it would damage Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer (see next entry below), but he also allowed TransCanada to reapply for a permit with a different route, which it has since done.

A re-review of the project from the State Department may now be coming within the next few weeks.

This story from here: Residents of the Great Plains (see states listed below that could be impacted) over the last year or so have experienced storms reminiscent of the 1930's Dust Bowl. Experts say the new storms have been brought on by a combination of historic drought, a dwindling Ogallala Aquifer underground water supply (refer to (3) below in original posting and above map), climate change and government farm programs.  Nearly 62 percent of the United States was gripped by drought, as of December 25, and “exceptional drought” enveloped parts of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Another Update: For the “we-have-to-have-the-Keystone-XL-pipeline-now" crowd, please take a few notes from this video tale of the tape here.


•  That oil is the so-called “Tar sands” type – the exact kind piped from Canada.
•  It is very corrosive oil.
•  It is heavy crude that mostly sinks to the bottom rather than float on the surface (thus cleanup is nearly impossible).
•  The current cost is over $800 million, and it has taken two years (Oil Company had promised it would take a couple of months).
•  To date, 843,000 gallons spilled from those 20,000 plus barrels.

From the final investigation:

The NTSB said Enbridge (Calgary-based Enbridge Pipeline Company) had noticed cracks as early as 2005 but had failed to repair them.

“This accident is a wake-up call to the industry, the regulator, and the public,” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in her statement. She continued: “Enbridge knew for years that this section of the pipeline was vulnerable yet they didn’t act on that information,” then she added that “for the regulator to delegate too much authority to the regulated to assess their own system risks and correct them is tantamount to the fox guarding the hen house."

The GOP now led by the Koch brothers (big energy hogs) and Mitt Romney wanted more of this “energy independence.”

Original Post Starts Here:  Note that I have been posting about this subject for a while... this piece reinforces five reasons why this pipeline is a very bad deal for us, in part here from the article: “The top five [commonsense] reasons to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.” (And, once again, the emphases are mine). 

(1)  Tar sands are “game over” for the climate. Canada’s tar sands, which Keystone XL would carry, could contain double the carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in history — and green lighting the pipeline that would carry them to the global market would be disastrous for climate change.

(2)  The supposed benefits of the tar sands pipeline have been over hyped. While supporters once said that the pipeline would bring gas prices down, experts agree that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline could even increase domestic gas prices — and have little chance of lowering them. Jobs numbers, too, have been wildly inflated; TransCanada gave U.S. officials a job number that was 67 times higher than the number they used in Canada. While every U.S. job is important, the estimates on this project have ranged from 50 permanent jobs, to 2,500 temporary jobs, to TransCanada’s claim of 20,000 jobs. Even unions agree that clean energy jobs outweigh this potential for temporary dirty oil jobs.

(3)  The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline puts our country’s natural resources at risk. The pipeline route passes through Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer, which is the country’s largest source of freshwater. The Aquifer provides drinking water and irrigation for millions of Americans throughout the country. Even a single spill could have disastrous consequences for generations to come — and a University of Nebraska at Lincoln analysis of the pipeline finds that it could have 91 major spills in 50 years.

(4)  On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Americans voted against dirty energy and against Big Oil. Big Oil bet big on the election — and lost big.

(5) Big Oil-backed groups spent over $270 million on television ads in the last two months of the cycle alone, and have little to show for it. A recent Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll found that 64 percent of voters say they have a favorable impression of renewable energy. In a Zogby poll released today, only 12 percent of respondents said that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was a “priority.” Meanwhile, 48 percent identified renewable energy as a priority.

(6)  The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline compromises our energy security. The tar sands oil that will pass through the pipeline is intended for the international market, making Keystone XL a pipeline that goes through the U.S. — not to the U.S. Furthermore, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline continues to feed our dangerous addiction to oil that compromises national security and places American troops in harm’s way.

A very key point:  Canada’s pro-industry energy regulator — the National Energy Board — just announced a sweeping audit of TransCanada’s Canadian operations. 

This is the latest in a long series of accidents, shutdowns and pipeline safety infractions that have hounded the Canadian pipeline operator TransCanada.  

Earlier this month, TransCanada was forced to shut its leak prone Keystone I tar sands pipeline down for four days after finding an “anomaly” — a technical term for cracks, corrosion or other defects in a pipeline which may lead to a rupture. These incidents are not unique; TransCanada has a sordid history as a pipeline operator. Just ask the folks in Upper Michigan along the Kalamazoo River regarding a record spill there.

My Summary:  As I've said all along from my research and actual events, this is still a very bad Myidea. Stay tuned - this issue is by no means a “done deal.”

Boy, was I right in 2013 when I said: “stay tuned,” and so here we are today with GOP President Donald J. Trump… who now has written a memo cancelling Mr. Obama disapproval and telling every “we need more forward on this project for our economic growth and jobs (sic).” Boy, oh boy here we go again.

Drain the Swamp, Mr. Trump says, forgetting the giant oil slick at the bottom. So, once again, history is about to repeat itself… let the oil flow and spills be damned … yippee, jobs… oh, permanent jobs at the end of the day? Some say about 50 or so. The damage potential? Millions and millions of Americans and their drinking water and damaged land. Hang on tight.

So, this is how a business oriented and run government works, um? 

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