Those in favor of the Keystone XL Pipeline have been arguing that the extension of the pipeline from Canada through the US to transport tar sand (bitumen) would create thousands of necessary well paying jobs; that a number of research papers verify that the pipeline will not add significantly to the carbon pollution in the air; that this added energy resource would reduce the North America’s dependency on foreign supplies of energy and then the cost of gas at the pumps would become less expensive for the consumer. The pipeline supporters repeatedly remind us that Trans-Canada’s Keystone XL Pipeline is already 40% completed and that it has been transporting the tar sand via the United States to gulf coast refineries on trains and trucks with the likelihood of an oil spill being greater via these forms of travel versus the proposed pipeline.
Those against the pipeline have their talking points too. They contend that there will be less than 50 permanent jobs created after the pipeline construction is completed; that this pipeline is for the benefit of Canada which means that a significant amount of the oil produced will not be sold to the United States but to other countries which will end up having little to do with the reduction of the U.S. dependency on energy; that the material being transported via the pipeline is the dirtiest crud possible and so if there should ever be a leak, the consequences could be devastating to the environment; that there is a major study reporting that the tar-sand crude produces 17 percent more greenhouse gases than conventional crude. If there is an oil spill from a train or truck, the resulting damage would be much more quickly discovered, limited and the cleanup would be an easier, less expensive process than if the Keystone pipeline developed a leak.
The Tampa Bay Times on 11/19 and 11/20/2014 referred to PunditFact.com for clarification on the Keystone XL Pipeline issue. The Tampa Bay Times authors, Kathie Sanders and Aaron Sharockman write, “The $8 billion project shuffling a heavy crude oil mixture from western Canada to Steele City, Nebraska has long been on hold pending a review by President Barack Obama and the State Department, which must determine if it “serves the national interest” because it crosses an international boarder. The pipeline would connect with an existing southern leg that opened early this year, delivering more than 800,000 barrels of oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast.”
The authors continue: “The State Department confirms that once the proposed project enters service, operations will require less than 50 total employees in the U.S. The State Department did conclude that “a total of 42,100 jobs throughout the United States would be supported by construction of the proposed project.” But more than 99% would be temporary, lasting only as long as construction — between one and two years. Construction would require around 10,400 seasonal workers for stretches that would last either four to eight months This works out to 3,900 “average annual workers jobs over one year of construction, or 1,950 jobs each year if the project takes two years to finish…A TransCanada spokesman confirmed that the 42,000 jobs are just for the two year construction period.” Originally, the TransCanada CEO Russ Girling quoted the State Department as indicating that the 42,000 jobs created by the Keystone XL pipeline would be “ongoing, enduring jobs.” Pundit Fact.com rates the assertion of ongoing 42,000 employees beyond construction phase of the pipeline as false.
According to pundit fact.com, the rumors that the Koch brothers are involved and are planning to be a customer with the Keystone pipeline are “pants on fire” false. While the Koch brothers are major players in the Canadian oil market and the Washington Post identified the company as the largest foreign lease holder of acres of Canadian oil sands, these leases occurred long before the Keystone Pipeline was on the drawing board. The Koch brothers, Alberta, Trans Canada and their spokes people have flatly denied any involvement.
My major concern is that the recently passed Keystone XL Pipeline bill by the U.S. Congress in February 2015, does not include a provision requiring the company, TransCanada to be economically responsible for any clean up expenses due to a leak from their pipeline on American property. There was no requirement for the Canadian organization to set monies aside in the event of an leak. This means that the American taxpayers and insurance companies would be left with the bill. As per Congress Woman Lois Capps web site 2/11/15 posting, I verified the following: Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24) offered the final amendment to S. 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act on the House floor. The amendment would have ensured that TransCanada – and not taxpayers – pays to clean up the mess in the event of an oil spill from the Keystone XL pipeline.
The amendment would have required TransCanada to pay the same per-barrel fee toward the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for the tar sands oil transported through Keystone XL that every other oil company currently pays when transporting conventional crude.
“We can all agree that extracting and transporting oil has serious risks,” Capps said. “Despite numerous assurances that Keystone XL will be safer and that risk of a spill will be minimal, safer simply does not equal safe. It only takes one small crack, one small mistake to cause a major oil spill and catastrophic, irreparable damage to the surrounding environment and communities. That is why we have the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, to ensure that the oil companies that create these messes also pay to clean them up. My commonsense amendment would have required TransCanada to certify that it will pay the same per-barrel fee for its tar sands oil as it does for regular crude, and I am disappointed it was not adopted.”
The motion failed, 241-181, and the House voted to approve S. 1, 270-152.
We residents in Florida are still waiting to be compensated by British Petroleum after their huge oil leak on the gulf coast in 2010. This petroleum company has followed the lead of similar entities by delaying payments to legitimate claimants, litigating whenever possible to delay or deny payments and doing whatever they can to avoid honoring the obligations that they promised to make this area whole. A very small fraction of the 20 billion dollars which was supposed to be set aside has reached deserving gulf coast claimants.
Leaks do happen as per an NPR report and examples are as follows:
“For evidence against the transport of tar sands crude, environmentalists point to an event in May 2011, when 21,000 gallons of oil leaked in North Dakota. This was also due to a faulty valve. The State Department says the maximum amount of spillage in a worst-case-scenario of a Keystone Pipeline leak is 2.8 million gallons spread throughout a 1.7 mile area. TransCanada points out that this is significantly smaller than the amount that escaped during the Deepwater Horizon disaster.”
“A March 2013 spill of tar-sands bitumen in Mayflower, Arkansas put the Keystone XL pipeline back in the spotlight. An ExxonMobil pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Canada burst, sending more than 12,000 barrels of oil down residential streets and through people’s yards. The pipe was decades old. The spill was categorized as “major” by the Environemntal Protection Agency (EPA) and the cleanup is ongoing.”
“The pipeline is often compared to another one built by the Canadian energy company Enbridge, which also transports tar sands crude into the U.S. Enbridge, a competitor of Transcanada, “has actually been transporting these types of products [tar sands crude] since 1999 in our pipelines,” said Denise Hamsher, Enbridge’s head of planning. Despite her claim, Enbridge is not without heavy public scrutiny. In July 2010, one of Enbridge’s pipelines ruptured in southern Michigan. Thousands of gallons of oil sands crude flowed into Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. The event caused the EPA to recommend to the State Department that pipelines carrying tar sands be regulated differently than pipelines that carry other types of oil.”
My question as an American consumer is as follows:
Why is TransCanada not constructing the pipeline by building westward in Canada? The answer is because they have received resistance to build by their own citizens to where it is not feasible. According to the New York Times, TransCanada is applying to their government to build eastward (Energy East) to be approved by 2018 because of the delays to extend the Keystone XL Pipeline in the United States of America. There are those who are speculating that TransCanada is taking this step to push the U.S. to a positive outcome as TransCanada will most definitely meet resistance from Canadians to building a pipeline east within their own country because this proposed pipeline would extend over 2,600 miles and the tar sands would travel over four time zones. In addition, TransCanada would have to incur extra expenses because the company would now have to ship the tar sands to refineries in Texas and Louisiana.
Has our Congress considered any of the following questions when enacting this bill? Would the amount of crude being transported from Canada through the United States via the pipeline be increased versus the current amounts being moved by above ground transportation methods?
By the way, what would be the reduction of jobs that the U.S. truckers and the railway employees currently have in transporting these tar-sands in comparison to any newly created jobs upon the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline?
What would be the likely consequences and costs of an oil leak from the pipeline versus a spill from above ground transportation? What plans have been established by TransCanada to remedy a large oil spill to prevent what happened when BP had a huge oil leak on the US gulf coast in 2010 by which most of the claimants are still waiting to be appropriately compensated as of 2015.?
Why isn’t the United States contracting for a specific percentage of this oil for our benefit in exchange for allowing the Keystone Pipeline to be built?
It is obvious that the oil industries are winners if the Keystone XL Pipeline is implemented. However, if the United States after the completion of the pipeline does not benefit by becoming a customer; less than 50 full time employees will be assigned to work on the pipeline when it is completed; according to the latest sponsored bill, TransCanada will not be held responsible for the clean up in the event of their oil spill, how is the creation of this pipeline on U.S. lands, in our national interest?
The State Department’s original study and other reports indicate that the additions of carbon pollutions in the environment due to the existence of the Keystone XL Pipeline is not significant. However, in the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the controversial pipeline, the State Department is stating that it takes no position on whether it should be built but notes that tar-sand crude produces 17 percent more greenhouse gases than conventional crude and as much as 10 percent more than heavy crude. The State Department study has also concluded that the pipeline would have “little impact” on the price U.S. consumers pay for their gasoline at the pumps. As of February 2015, the American public is already experiencing significant decreases of oil prices at he gas pumps.
I just do not see how the Canadian Keystone XL Pipeline benefits the average American consumer. As I see it, the only true winners are the oil companies. With the above facts, it is hard to argue that the construction of this pipeline is in our national interest. So, I’m have been betting that President Barack Obama would not give his approval to build this pipeline.
Fortunately, on February 24, 2015, President Barack Obama vetoed the latest Keystone XL Pipeline bill passed by the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate. The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is promising that the Senate plans to try to override Obama’s veto in March, 2015. Republicans are also talking about inserting Keystone into other critical legislation so that Obama would be less likely to veto it. Those who are in the know indicate that the Senate being able to over ride this veto is highly unlikely. In addition, there is an eminent domain issue winding its way through the Nebraska court rooms which could take anywhere from one to three years to resolve. Then there is the South Dakota Sioux Indian Tribe which is demanding that the U.S. honor their 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie by not allowing for the construction of the pipeline through their Rosebud Reservation.
NOTE: This is a 2/25/15 update based on a previously published blog.
On 11/6/15 President Barack Obama announced that it has been determined that the Keystone Pipeline XL is not in the US best interests and approval for this project is denied.
Capps Offers Amendment to Keystone Bill to Protect …capps.house.gov › Media Center › Press Releases Feb 11, 2015 – Lois Capps (CA-24) offered the final amendment to S. 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act on the House floor.