The Keystone Pipeline System
is a pipeline system to transport petroleum products from Canada and the northern United States "primarily to refineries in the Gulf Coast" of Texas. (USSD SEIS March 1, 2013 p.ES-2) The products to be shipped includesynthetic crude oil (syncrude) and dilbit (diluted bitumen) from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) in Alberta, Canada, and Bakken synthetic crude oil and light crude oil produced from the Williston Basin (Bakken) region in Montana and North Dakota. Two phases of the project are in operation, a third, from Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf coast, is under construction and the fourth is awaiting U.S. government approval as of mid-March 2013. Upon completion, the Keystone Pipeline System would consist of the completed 2,151-mile (3,462 km) Keystone Pipeline (Phases I and II) and the proposed 1,661-mile (2,673 km) Keystone Gulf Coast Expansion Project (Phases III and IV) . The controversial fourth phase, the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, would begin at the oil distribution hub in Hardisty, Alberta and extend 1,179 miles (1,897 km), to Steele City, Nebraska.
The operational Keystone Pipeline system currently has the capacity to deliver up to 590,000 barrels per day (94,000 m3/d) of Canadian crude oil into the Mid-West refining markets. In the summer of 2010 Phase 1 of the Keystone Pipeline was completed, delivering crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, and then east through Missouri to Wood River refineries and Patoka, Illinois. Phase 2 the Keystone-Cushing extension was completed in February 2011 with the pipeline from Steele City, Nebraska to storage and distribution facilities at Cushing, Oklahoma, a major crude oil marketing/refining and pipeline hub.
The Keystone XL proposal faced lawsuits from oil refineries and criticism fromenvironmentalists and some members of the United States Congress. In January 2012, President Barack Obama rejected the application amid protests about the pipeline's impact on Nebraska's environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region. TransCanada changed the original proposed route of Keystone XL to minimize "disturbance of land, water resources and special areas" and the new route was approved by Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman in January 2013. On March 22, 2012, Obama endorsed the building of its southern half that begins in Cushing, Okla. The President said in Cushing OK on March 22, “Today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.”
In its Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) released for public scrutiny in March 2013, the United States Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, described a number of changes to the original proposals including the shortening of the pipeline to 875 miles (1,408 km); its avoidance of "crossing the NDEQ-identified Sand Hills Region" and "reduction of the length of pipeline crossing the Northern High Plains Aquifer system, which includes the Ogallala formation (USSD SEIS March 1, 2013 ES-22)"; and stated "there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed Project route." In response to the Department of State's report which recommended neither acceptance nor rejection, the editor of the New York Times recommended that President Obama, who acknowledges climate change as one of humanity's "most challenging issues", should reject the project which "even by the State Department’s most cautious calculations — can only add to the problem (The Editor. March 10, 2013. New York Times)."
The original Keystone Pipeline System has been in operation since 2010 and consists of a 3,461 pipeline that delivers Canadian crude oil to U.S. Midwest markets.
In 2011, a second phase of the Keystone Pipeline was opened, extending the pipeline some 480 kilometres from Steele City, Nebraska to Cushing, Oklahoma. The extension of the project including the construction of 11 new pumping stations has increased the channel’s capacity from 435,000 barrels a day to 591,000. (1)
TransCanada, the Canadian pipeline company that developed the project, has proposed to extend the Keystone Pipeline Project further with a new channel known as Keystone XL.
From operations in Alberta, Canada, Keystone XL would carry up to 900,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil, approximately 3000 kilometres to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
The Keystone XL Pipeline project has been met with intense criticism, with many citizens, environmental groups and politicians raising various concerns about the possible impacts of the Keystone XL extension.
Objections to the Keystone PipelineTwo of the biggest objections to the project are that the tar sands pipeline would put the people of America at risk from toxic oil spills as well as potentially polluting the air and water supplies, at the peril of wildlife and migratory birds. One of the key critics of the Keystone XL Pipeline project is the National Wildlife Federation, (NWF), which is doing its best to stop, what it describes as being “dirty fuel”. (2)
Taking a similar stance as the NWF about the Keystone XL Pipeline is Friends of the Earth, which refers to tar sands oil as, “…one of the world’s dirtiest fuels.” The NWF website reports:
“If approved, the Keystone XL pipeline will cross through America’s agricultural heartland, the Missouri and Niobrara Rivers, the Ogallala aquifer, sage grouse habitat, sandhill crane habitat, walleye fisheries and more. Our public water supplies, crop lands, wildlife habitats and recreational opportunities will be at risk of dangerous tar sands oil leaks.” (3)
In order to fully understand the potential environmental impacts of tar sands oil, it’s important to understand what exactly this type of petroleum deposit is.
According to the Rain Forest Network (RAN), tar sand is comprised of heavy crude oil mixed with sand, clay and bitumen, in which as many as five barrels of water are required to produce just one barrel of tar sand oil. (4)
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Due to the energy required to extract and process tar sands oil, as much as three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventional oils are created when producing tar sands oil, according to RAN. RAN continues that in 2010, Canada’s greenhouse emissions were almost 35 times higher than during the 1990s, and its association with tar sands is the leading reason why Canada will not meet its Kyoto reduction commitments. (4)
Given these facts regarding the environmental damage tar sands oil brings to the environment, environmental groups and lobbyists are naturally going to deeply oppose the Keystone XL project.
There is however another side to the inauguration of the 1,700-mile steel pipeline debate that needs to be explored.
Offering a counterpoint to the predominantly more widespread view that the pipeline would have seriously adverse effects on the environment was a feature in 2011 by the New York Times, which questioned the impartiality of the environmental analysis of the pipeline made by Cardno Entrix, an environmental contractor based in Houston.
The New York Times wrote about a subsequent study, released in August 2011 that found that the pipeline would have “limited adverse environmental impacts”, if operated according to regulations. (5) This positive assessment of the pipeline resulted in the final approval of the proposed pipeline by President Obama.
On March 22, 2012
President Obama backtracked his earlier rejection of the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline by pledging to “cut through the red tape” and “get the project done.”
Can Tar Sands Oil Become Viable?Another fact that may contradict the notion that the 900,000 barrels of tar sands oil from the Keystone XL pipeline would dramatically affect the health and well being of the American people, America’s environment and its wildlife, is the prospect that advances in technology are making tar sands oil less dirty.
For example, Paul Painter, a scientist based in the Penn State has developed a process of separating tar sands from clay and water that involves uses an ionic liquid and requires considerably less water and energy that the industry has previously relied on, which has been a major critique against tar sands.
Such techniques, says Jennifer Grant of the Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank in Canada, “have been helpful in raising the bar” on industry standards. (6)
Whilst the huge and highly controversial Keystone Pipeline project is viewed by many as “an environmental crime in progress”, advances in technology and greater industry regulations may allow Canada to safely supply more oil to the U.S., reducing the West’s reliance on oil supplies from volatile regions of the world, and ultimately dramatically lowering the price of oil throughout the Americas.
11/15/2011 10:09 am Updated: 11/15/2011 10:36 amReferences & Image Credits:
Keystone XL Pipeline Delay: Were Fears Of A ‘North American Union' Behind Opposition?
The Obama administration’s decision to delay the Keystone pipeline has been largely painted in the media as a victory for the environmental movement.
Environmentalists certainly have reason to celebrate, as the delay has the potential to kill the project altogether, and has already prompted Canada to turn to other markets for its oil. It may not be the hands-down, decisive victory opponents of the Keystone were aiming for, but it moves the ball a long way down the field towards green movement’s goals.
Yet the notion that environmentalists scuttled this deal doesn’t entirely square with the facts. Progressive-minded celebrities were arrested outside the White House in anti-Keystone protests, sure, but in the actual halls of power the story played out very differently.In terms of the practical steps required to make Keystone XL a reality, the most significant opposition came from Nebraska, where a Republican governor came out firmly against the project. In a letter to the Obama administration this summer, Gov. Dave Heineman argued the Keystone XL pipeline, in its current proposed form, would threaten the Ogallala aquifer, a watershed that supplies drinking water to 2 million people in Nebraska and six other states.
There is no reason to doubt that Heineman’s concerns about the potential pollution of drinking water are genuine, but it's hard to reconcile his position with his political brand. Employing environmentalists' talking points to oppose an oil industry project seems strikingly out of character for a Republican governor.
Yet this is precisely what happened. So are Midwestern conservatives eschewing their support for big business and taking up environmental causes? Unlikely. Underneath the heated discussions over environmental impact lie several issues close to the hearts of populist American conservatives.
One of these issues is property rights. As The New York Times reported last month, TransCanada Corp., the Keystone’s builder, “has been threatening to confiscate private land from South Dakota to the Gulf of Mexico, and is already suing many who have refused to allow the Keystone XL pipeline on their property even though the controversial project has yet to receive federal approval.”
Nothing could strike a more unwelcome chord with today’s libertarian-minded rural American conservative. The idea that a company -- and aforeign company, at that -- could come to people’s homes and demand that they sell their property to them under threat of lawsuit flies in the face of what they see as the foundations of America’s constitutional order. The spectre of a large, unaccountable Canadian company taking homeowners’ land against their will in order to build a pipeline for Canadian oil is enough to spark a revolution in today’s bloody-minded, Tea Party-dominated conservative movement.
With Tea Party websites up in arms about the seizure of Americans’ property by a foreign company, the conservative opposition to the Keystone coalesced. In Nebraska, state lawmakers took to debating changing the laws surrounding eminent domain.
But beyond the controversy over property rights lies another concern, one which may not be articulated by elected politicians in the deep-red rural Midwest, but one that appears in private conversations, in the comments sections of online articles, and on the discussion boards where grassroots conservative debate takes place. And that fear is the North American Union.
It has been a concern (some would say a conspiracy theory) of U.S. conservatives that the North American Free Trade Agreement is the thin end of the wedge to the creation of a North American Union, our very own version of the European Union, complete with mountains of technocratic regulations, soul-sucking bureacuracy and an accompanying loss of sovereignty that would make the United States a subservient element of a new, super-national entity.
(It’s an interesting irony to note that while in Canada the fear of losing sovereignty through economic integration has been the domain of progressives, in the U.S. that exact same fear is primarily held by conservative-leaning individuals.)
Regardless of the fact that such a project would be largely unnecessary and unrealistically expensive, rumours of its imminent groundbreaking spread across the Internet like wildfire. To those worried about a North American Union, the super-highway represented a dangerous new phase of this supposed project to create a super-state from Canada, Mexico and the U.S.
Enter the Keystone pipeline. As some observers have pointed out, the Keystone’s route is fairly similar to the route “proposed” for the NAFTA Super-Highway.
MAP OF THE PROPOSED KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE EXPANSION
MAP OF THE SO-CALLED 'NAFTA SUPER-HIGHWAY'
"This pipeline was part of the Trans-Texas Corridor (which is now 'dead,' ), which was part of the NAFTA Superhighway (which 'doesn't exist,') which will apparently get built in one incarnation or another,” argued the Texas-based Truth Be Tolled blog in a typical posting on the subject.
It is against this backdrop of property rights concerns and North American Union conspiracy theories that opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline in the deep-red states of the Midwest joined forces with the environmental movement.
Simply put, the environmentalists worried about the ecological impact of the oil sands found common cause with those worried about the abuse of eminent domain, and those worried about Canada and Mexico surreptitiously taking over the United States through growing economic integration.
This is the political circumstance in which President Barack Obama’s administration decided to delay the final word on the pipeline to past the 2012 election. It was not, after all, a group of progressive activists who convinced the White House that Keystone was a bad idea; rather it was a confluence of political objectives on both sides of the aisle that convinced the administration it had little to gain from approving the project, at least in the short term.
Yet the outcome here raises some important questions. Many ambitious infrastructure projects have been built in the United States. The most ambitious, the Eisenhower Interstate System, required the repeated use of eminent domain. The controversy over the use of that governmental power has not in the past stopped such projects from going forward; neither have conspiracy theories about a takeover of the United States. That this is now happening raises real and fundamental questions about how the United States makes important policy decisions -- or whether it is capable of making them at all, anymore.
The Keystone XL may yet become a reality; or it may be tossed into the dustbin of history as Canada looks to new markets for its oil and the U.S. looks to other sources for its vast energy consumption.
But one thing is certain: The demise of the Keystone XL pipeline, now a very real possibility, is a far more complicated issue than one of environmentalists versus oil barons. What happened to Keystone is as complicated, bizarre and difficult to unravel as America itself is today.
April 01, 2013
Keystone pipeline leaves politics, environment muddiedChris Hayes and the panel continue their discussion of the Exxon Mobil oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas. | HERE
April 2, 2013, 7:50 AM
Recent Spills Don’t Help Case for Keystone PipelineBy Tennille Tracy
April 06, 2013As President Barack Obama weighs approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, recent headlines from the energy industry aren’t helping make the pro-pipeline case. A recent series of mishaps, including a spill last Friday from a pipeline owned by Exxon Mobil, is providing fresh ammunition to Keystone XL opponents who say the process of transporting Canadian oil carries too many risks and that Keystone should be denied as a result.
Keystone pipeline opponents biggest spenders in Massachusetts Senate raceFoxNews.com
Read more: HERE
The Keystone XL Pipeline has emerged as a major issue in the Massachusetts special U.S. Senate election, with environmental groups committing nearly one-third of the $1.25 million in outside money already spent on campaigns.
The biggest spender so far is the League of Conservation Voters, which has already spent more than $545,000 to help elect Democratic candidate and Rep. Ed Markey, who has a strong pro-environment platform.
“Our field campaign is resonating with voters across Massachusetts,” said Navin Nayak, a political specialist for the group. “The people of Massachusetts want climate change champion Ed Markey representing them.”
The group also plans to spend about $100,000 more to knock on the doors of more than 240,000 likely Democratic primary voters before the April 30 primaries.
Supporters of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline are urging the Obama administration to approve the project to create thousands of jobs and make the United States less dependent on foreign oil. However, critics say drilling for oil in Canada’s dirty tar sand will release greenhouse gas emissions.
Markey faces fellow Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch in the party primary and holds a double-digit lead, according to most polls. The winner will face the top vote-getter in the Republican primary that features former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, state Rep. Daniel Winslow and businessman Gabriel Gomez.
The general election is June 25, for the open Senate seat of Democrat John Kerry.
Another environmental group spending big money to defeat Lynch is the NextGen Committee, which has reported spending more than $196,000, according to Federal Election Commission filings. The group is backed by California billionaire Thomas Steyer, who has called on Lynch to oppose the pipeline. Next Gen has spent $54,700 for an aerial banner that read "Steve Lynch says: Go Habs! And Go Canadian Dirty Oil."
The banner appears to question Lynch’s loyalty to the Boston Bruins. The "Habs" is the nickname for the Montreal Canadiens. The banner was flown over downtown Boston ahead of a matchup between the two hockey teams.
NextGen also spent more than $50,000 for video mobile billboards and $40,000 for online advertisements. That's an apparent violation of an agreement signed by Lynch and Markey known as the "People's Pledge," which is designed to discourage radio, television and Internet ads by outside groups. If there is a violation, the candidate who benefits agrees to pay half the cost of the ad to a charity named by their rival.
Markey has made environmental issues one of his top priorities and the focus of a television campaign ad that highlighted his role in holding BP responsible for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Another big supporter of Markey is the Service Employees International Union, which has made more than $368,000 in independent expenditures to help elect him. The money went to cover gas, staff salaries and canvassing services.
The group making the biggest push on behalf of Lynch is the International Association of Firefighters, which has reported spending more than $85,300, including money for gas, tolls, rally signs, car rentals and travel expenses.
Lynch worked as an ironworker for 18 years and, along with Markey, has appealed to unions for their support.
None of the independent expenditures reported to the FEC by the end of the week were made to either support or oppose the three Republican U.S. Senate candidates -- former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, Norfolk state Rep. Daniel Winslow and Cohasset businessman Gabriel Gomez.
League spokesman Jeff Gohringer told FoxNews.com Saturday all of the money has been spent in support of Markey.
The Tea Party-aligned Conservative Campaign Committee, however, has said it plans to spend up to $200,000 on radio and television ads to support Sullivan and target Winslow and Gomez.Winslow and Gomez have called on Sullivan to renounce the ads by the group, which they say holds extreme anti-gay positions.
The Republican candidates have not agreed to the People's Pledge and argue Lynch and Markey began their campaigns with a stockpiles of money.
The independent expenditures by outside groups give no indication how much each candidate has raised in donations so far. The first reporting filing deadline in the race is April 18, less than two weeks before the primary.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
April 8, 2013Read more: HERE
Keystone Pipeline: Environmental Symbol or Economic OpportunityThe Hard Question™ Debate Series: April 10th 2013, National Press Club D.C.By The Hard Question LLC
WASHINGTON, APRIL 8, 2013 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Controversy continues to surround the future of the Keystone Pipeline. Is the pipeline a symbol of an environmental movement? Or is the country about to capitalize on the greatest economic opportunity from our neighbor to the North - Canada.
The second in the series of The Hard Question™ debates will tackle the critical discussion over the Keystone Pipeline on April 10, 2013 at the National Press Club beginning at 6 pm. Keystone supporters and critics come together to discuss the issue and answer the hard questions over the environmental and economic impact of the project.
Opening remarks will be delivered by The Honorable George Allen, Chairman of American Energy Freedom Center.
Panelists: Senator Don Nickles (retired, R-OK); Senator Byron Dorgan (retired, D-ND); Anthony Swift, Natural Resource Defense Council; Chris Faulkner, Breitling Oil & Gas; Doug Cain, Lake Truck Lines; Brian Ambrose, Vencedor Energy Partners; Mark Jaccard, Professor of Resource and Environmental Management and Lane Sloan, Greater Houston Partnership.
As the deadline for the Keystone XL Pipeline decision nears, the Senate has recently approved a Republican plan in support of the 2,000+ mile project, pressuring a decision from the White House. The Hard Question™ leads a fearless discussion that gets inside the issues as the decision nears.
SOURCE The Hard Question LLC