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Positive Environmental Report Means Admin Would Need Other Rationale to Kill Keystone

Environmental groups demand review of all tar sands pipelines for carbon pollution before a final Keystone judgment.

by
Bill Straub

Bio

January 31, 2014 - 3:48 pm
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WASHINGTON – The proposed Keystone XL pipeline cleared a major regulatory hurdle on Friday with the release of an environmental impact statement declaring the controversial project presents only a limited environmental risk.

The report, issued by the State Department – the controlling agency since the venture involves both Canada and the U.S. – was immediately attacked by environmentalists and places anew the focus on President Obama, who ultimately has the final authority to approve or disapprove the development despite the findings.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to say when the president might offer his determination. Obama has, in the past, expressed concern about the pipeline, telling the New York Times that construction won’t be a “big jobs generator” despite claims by some supporters and will do little to enhance the nation’s energy situation.

But the long-awaited report fails to provide the administration with what could have been a strong argument against the project. Instead, the president will be forced to develop a rationale for terminating the pipeline that doesn’t deal with environmental concerns.

“After over five years, President Obama is out of excuses,” declared Nebraska GOP Rep. Lee Terry. “…It would be a disgrace to allow extreme ideologues to obstruct this critical project that will create jobs and help us down the path of energy security.”

According to the report: “Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States based on expected oil prices, oil-sands supply costs, transport costs, and supply-demand scenarios.”

The Keystone pipeline, a project of TransCanada Corp., an energy company based in Calgary, Alberta, is primarily intended to transport oil sands bitumen – sands saturated with a viscous form of petroleum — from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

Two phases covering 2,151 miles already are operating, one from Hardisty, Alberta, to Patoka, Ill., and a second from Steele City, Neb., to Cushing, Okla. A third phase under construction will run from Cushing to the Texas Gulf Coast.

The pipeline system currently in operation can move up to 590,000 barrels of the crude Canadian oil to refineries in the American Midwest per day.

It is a proposed fourth phase that is drawing controversy. TransCanada wants to run a 1,661-mile pipeline from Hardisty crossing over the border into Morgan, Mont., that would cost about $5.3 billion and move 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day. If approved, it will terminate in Steele City, where the oil will enter the other pipelines.

Environmentalists strongly oppose the fourth phase, expressing concern over oil spills and the potential for damage to the Ogallala aquifer, one of the world’s largest underground water tables, which spans eight states, provides drinking water to two million people and supports $20 billion in agriculture.

Originally the route of the fourth phase was supposed to cross the Sand Hills in Nebraska, a large wetland ecosystem. TransCanada changed the route to avoid the conflict.

But the environmental impact statement determined that extraction and transportation of the oil sands carry little impact and likely will not contribute significantly to global climate change. While extracting and burning tar sands produces greenhouse gas at a rate that is 17 percent greater than the burning of traditional oil, the report held that tar sands oil will wind up on the market regardless of whether the pipeline is built or not.

“Assuming construction of the proposed Project were to occur in the next few years, climate conditions during the construction period would not differ substantially from current conditions,” the report said. “However, during the subsequent operational time period…climate changes are anticipated to occur regardless of any potential effects from the proposed Project.”

As far as the potential for large, devastating oil spills, the report said, “The proposed Project would include processes, procedures, and systems to prevent, detect, and mitigate potential oil spills.”

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All Comments   (23)
All Comments   (23)
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They don't need any rational "excuse." Not when the end justifies the means.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
A positive environmental report means no such thing- for it to be seen as credible the MSM would have to carry it and not manipulate its narrative to plant doubt so your headline is part of the problem. Clearly Obama has no intention of approving the project because it imperils his alternative fuels agenda. The compliant MSM will either bury or throw doubt into the reports conclusions if it begins to develop legs in public discourse and a general push for Keystone to move forward begins to build.

At very best expect purposeful foot dragging and the erection of new regulatory hurdles through the EPA and by executive fiat. Obama has pretty much said that he's going to push forward with his agenda with or without the help of Congress and THAT I believe.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your dear leader will pass it onto the EPA where it'll never see the light of day.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
All environmentalists types should be made to live in caves and wear animal skins for clothes. Also, eat only grass and thorn bushes for food. Then I believe they would be happy..insane, but happy.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
A pipeline will change the climate, let that one sink in. You think we're not dealing with lunatics here? Oh for the good old days when some people only believed in ghosts and goblins, now look what Normal People are stuck with.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was born in Texas and lived here most of my life. I've lived in places where natural springs had natural tar and crude floating on the surface of the water. We have oil pipelines crisscrossing the state, but no one notices they are there. How often do you hear news about environmental problems in Texas because of oil production? There are all sorts of federal and state regulations that virtually eliminate environmental impact. And no, neither I nor any of my family or friends, save one uncle I rarely see, work for oil, coal or energy.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama is AWOL on just about everything ... he's on his way out and so is Obamacare. Empty threats, scare tactics and thuggery will continue but they will be overcome by the resilience of the American people. Face it ... if Shillary is the best the left can do for 2016; they're in deep doo doo.
Personally though; I think Shillary is just another scare tactic, a distraction to an already monstrously corrupt DC agenda that involves both Obama and the GOP.
Corruption, corruption, corruption ... THAT's our biggest problem.

34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Next up for Obama's Kick the Keystone Down the Road will be him proclaiming now that the State Department has found no international impact, he'll "release" it to the regular process for their action. Folks, let me be clear - this means the EPA.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rationale? We have the executive fiat!
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
The project is good for the economy of the US and Canada, although its impact on energy prices will be marginal at most. But there is virtually no risk to "the environment" from it. The oil sands will be harvested and refined, period, and even the Greenies should understand that carbon released in China has the same effect as that released in Texas.

Pipelines are among the safest technologies for transporting petro products, too. Their leaks are rare, of low volume, and easiest to repair. There are over 20,000 such pipelines in the US already, over a million miles of them easily, delivering oil products every day.

How often do you hear of spills or leaks?
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
One correction to your otherwise spot on comment. Should the tar sand oil go to China the effect would be much worse as they have demonstrated a consistent disregard for all emission controls.
Funny that the media ignores so many facts like this, or for example that US industry meets or exceeds compliance with the limits suggested by the Kyoto accords even though we never signed up for them.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
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