mage: Ray Bodden via flickr
This July, the heat is being turned up on TransCanada, the Canadian corporation vying for the right to build a 1,700 mile pipeline, known as the Keystone XL, through the US all the way to the Gulf. The wind might finally be at the back of the landowners and environmentalists who for years have warned that the pipeline, which will carry bitumen from Canada's carbon bomb known as the tar sands, is a threat to fresh water supplies and the climate. Just this week, the LA Times editorialized against Keystone XL; Bill McKibben's massive civil disobedience at the White House to pressure the president has picked up considerable steam with over 1000 respondents to his call; and now seven senators have written to Secretary Clinton to express their "concern" over the project. The senators wrote to Secretary Clinton, citing the 12 spills from TransCanada's year-old Keystone tar sands pipeline. They also asked Clinton if the State Department will work with the US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administrationz (PHMSA) on Keystone XL's environmental review.
"The existing Keystone pipeline has been in operation for less than one year and has spilled 12 times, including spills of 400 barrels of crude in North Dakota on May 7, and 10 barrels of crude in Kansas on May 29. The May spills resulted in the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issuing a Corrective Action Order to TransCanada, finding that "the continued operation of the pipeline without corrective measures would be hazardous to life, property and the environment." These spills are troubling, as the Keystone XL pipeline will have similar characteristics, and underscore the need for careful assessment of both the spill risks and route of Keystone XL."
The LA Times made it abundantly clear why the pipeline is a risk to fresh water supplies such as the Ogallala aquifer.
The spill is a reminder that offshore oil platforms, the source of last year's massive BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, aren't the only cause of leaks and environmental damage. Pipelines, especially aging ones, spring leaks with some frequency, though rarely in such environmentally sensitive places as the Yellowstone. While regulators take Exxon Mobil to task over its handling of the incident, environmental groups and some members of Congress are citing the leak as justification for halting or slowing approval of a major pipeline project that would carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast, passing, like the Exxon Mobil pipeline, under the Yellowstone River and other waterways.
To find out more about McKibben's protest, please visit here.