Nacogdoches Sunday Sentinel, March 20,2011
Project faces further review, but it just makes sense for U.S.
Despite recent increases in crude oil and refined product prices, it came as no surprise when the State Department said Tuesday it is subjecting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to further environmental review. The notice appeared on the department’s website.
The project, a $20 billion private undertaking, would expand a 36inch pipeline from Canadian oil fields in the province of Alberta to the major U.S. oil terminal in Cushing, Oklahoma and on to refineries in Nederland, Texas. The last available route map projected the pipeline to run south through the western part of Angelina County, crossing Highway 59 south of Diboll. The pipeline operators already have commitments to pump more than 900,000 barrels per day to Nederland, chosen at the terminus because of the refining capacity. That could further solidify Canada as our No. 1 supplier of foreign crude oil. According to the U.S. Energy Administration, we imported about two million barrels per day from Canada last year, almost double the amount we imported from the Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
Critics of the project primarily object to the fact much of the oil will come from oil sands, where extraction processes produce more greenhouse gases and surface mining scars the land. Surface mines are reclaimed, and whether or not you subscribe to the man-made global warming scenario, Canada is going to sell its oil to someone. The Chinese are already investing in Canadian oil sand fields.
The U.S. Department of Energy reported last month even if the Canadian oil sand fields cease production, our country would still continue to import similar “dirty oil” from other countries — particularly the Middle East — for the foreseeable future.
Critics also contend there is no reason to pipe the oil to the Gulf Coast, but they conveniently forget the fact that’s where the country’s major refining capacity already exists. It’s hard to imagine a new major refining complex being constructed in Montana or North Dakota, especially since the transshipping infrastructure already exists along the Gulf Coast.
Keystone will not use imminent domain to seize rights of way for the pipeline. Landowners will be able to demand and receive fair-market value for easements.
Pipelines offer a proven way to safely transport crude oil and petroleum products. There are currently more than 50,000 miles of pipelines in the United States, moving products more efficiently and safely than by rail cars or trucks. The major disasters predicted to befall the Trans-Alaska Pipeline when it was constructed in 1977 have yet to materialize.
According to the notice from the State Department, the public will be able to comment on the project “after the anticipated mid-April comment period begins.” We’ll keep you posted on the exact date, but in the meantime we plan to tell Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn and Congressman Louie Gohmert we think the pipeline makes sense, especially if it appears we are not willing to develop our own reserves.
Letter of Response
Dear Daily Sentinel,
Thank you for your coverage of the Keystone XL, as it is an important and timely issue for East Texans. We had a chance to read the opinion editorial today (3/20/11) and will not bother editorializing a response, but instead, will offer some fact correction for your article. You have the right to draw your own conclusions, as does everyone in East Texas (while the majority of them agree with us!,) but facts, well, facts can't be editorialized. Please see the facts, with full citations below, and issue an appropriate correction.
1. The article says it's a $20 billion project. TransCanada said last month the project now is going to cost them $13 billion- up from $12 billion. They say the delays and intense political pressure which landowners and opponents have rightly put them under are responsible for that extra cost. (http://www.transcanada.com/5648.html)
2. Pipelines are safe. Typically, sure. But y'all forget to make an important distinction, here. TAR SANDS oil pipelines are NOT safe. Canadian pipelines for this sort fail 16 times more per mile due to internal corrosion. 840,000 gallons of tar sands oil spilled into a Michigan river from what I suppose they'd call a "safe" pipeline. (http://dirtyoilsands.org/files/tarsandssafetyrisks.pdf) TransCanada's first tar sands pipeline, Keystone I, has leaked 7 times in 10 months. (http://tarsandspipelines.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/spill-7-for-keystone-pipeline/)
3. People object to the pipeline for many reasons. Many environmentalists DO oppose the project because of its large carbon footprint, but many East Texans oppose the pipeline because of how prone to leaks it would be and what that means for our drinking water, namely in the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer since tar sands oil is heavier than water. (http://dirtyoilsands.org/files/tarsandssafetyrisks.pdf) Not to mention that East Texans tend not to be fond of a foreign company treading on our private property rights. (http://www.inews880.com/Channels/Reg/LocalNews/story.aspx?ID=1351225)
4. This is where the Daily Sentinel really gets off track. The word is spelled "eminent" when it appears before the word domain in the U.S., not "imminent," but aside from that, TransCanada WILL-- and IS!-- using eminent domain against landowners, in Texas and elsewhere. (http://www.lvmises.ca/posts/blog/canadian-energy-company-sues-americans-for-eminent-domain/) They bring up the threat of it from the beginning and if landowners don't like their offer, they often feel no choice but to accept it because they know eminent domain court costs are outrageous. Landowners across East Texas have been through, are in, and will be, in eminent domain proceedings with TransCanada if we do not stop this pipeline. (http://www.winnsborotoday.com/articles/2010/David&Goliath.html)
You know where STOP stands. As always, we're available for inquiries of any kind at stoptarsands.org, 409.550.7961, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brittany Dawn McAllister