Keystone Pipeline Faces More Setbacks and Controversy


Trans Canada, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, is under fire once again. Previous business relations with the consultants that penned the pipeline project’s most recent environmental impact analysis statements has Democrats and Environmentalist crying foul.  The Department of State Inspector General is investigating the conflict of interest claims against Environmental Resources Management (ERM).  It is alleged that ERM lied to the Department of State to gain the bid to perform the environmental impact analysis.  A report on the issue is due to be released in January.  There are 25 members of the House Democratic Party that are urging President Barack Obama not to accept the environmental impact statement from ERM and delay any decisions regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline until the investigation is complete.

The Keystone XL Pipeline which was touted to be the “safest and most advanced pipeline operation in North America” has been laden with difficulties and protest.  The project, a 1,179 mile pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, comprises the third and fourth phase in a series of pipelines that was supposed to transport crude oil from Canada to refineries in the United States.  Environmentalist are concerned that the pipeline crosses numerous waterways including a major aquifer.  The Ogallala Aquifer is the largest source of fresh water in the United States and supplies drinking water for eight states. The Keystone I pipeline, which is currently operational, moves approximately 590,000 barrels per day from Canada to the Midwest.  The pipeline had 12 oil spills in its first year of operations.  Trans Canada stated the pipeline would have no more than one spill every seven years.  The largest, 21,000 gallons, spilled in geyser-like fashion on May 7, 2022 in North Dakota.  Landowners and observers allege the Keystone XL pipelines are damaged by anomalies such as dents and sags that can cause ruptures due to failure of Trans Canada contractors to follow engineering codes.

The President previously stated that he refused to condemn future generations to a planet beyond fixing.  Democrats and Environmentalists want him to keep his word.  The Keystone Pipeline pumps hot, diluted bitumen, a black viscous residue of petroleum distillation, at a pressure of 1440 psi.  It is a corrosive substance.  Heating it and sending it through pipelines at pressures beyond 600 psi leads to concerns of weakened pipelines over time from corrosion and abrasion leading to stress corrosion cracking.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the pipeline also will be responsible for carbon emissions equivalent to 27 million metric tons of carbon dioxide; the equivalent of 6.2 million cars on the road for 50 years.  The EPA and the Department of the Interior have raised concerns of substantial problems with the pipeline and insufficient information on the environmental issues and impacts of the pipeline.

The Exxon Pegasus pipeline oil spill on March 29 in Arkansas not only had detrimental environmental impacts but raised questions and fears about potential health risks to the neighborhoods affected by the spill.  Many residents have chosen not to return to their homes despite the cleanup.  The BP Oil Spill in the Gulf Coast has left residents and cleanup workers with a wide variety of health problems some of which include: kidney damage, lung damage and cancer.  With these tragic examples fresh in consumers’ minds, the future of Trans Canada’s Keystone XL Pipeline will likely face more controversy, delays and governmental scrutiny.


Related posts: