EPA objects to proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Gulf Coast

MATTHEW DALY
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency is raising new objections to a proposed pipeline that would carry oil from western Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.

In a letter to the State Department, the EPA said it remains concerned about the risk of oil spills that could affect drinking water and sensitive ecosystems, as well as the effect of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline.

The EPA said that despite two lengthy reports, the State Department still has not done sufficient analysis of the project’s impact on the environment. The letter urged State to conduct a more thorough analysis of oil spill risks and alternative pipeline routes.

Until those concerns are addressed, the EPA said it will rate the project as “environmental objections — insufficient information.”

“Pipeline oil spills are a very real concern,” Cynthia Giles, EPA’s assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance, wrote. Giles cited major pipeline spills last year in Michigan and Illinois, as well as two leaks last month in the Keystone pipeline, a 1,300-mile line owned by the same company that wants to build Keystone XL. The U.S. pipeline safety agency briefly blocked Calgary-based TransCanada from restarting the Keystone pipeline last week because of safety concerns.

The recent leaks “underscore the need to carefully consider both the route of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and appropriate measures to prevent and detect a spill,” Giles wrote in the letter dated Monday.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has authority over Keystone XL because the 1,900-mile project crosses the U.S. border.

The new pipeline would carry crude oil extracted from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico, traveling through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma before reaching refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas. The project would double the capacity of the existing Keystone pipeline, which runs from North Dakota to Oklahoma and Illinois. Supporters say the two projects could significantly reduce U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

Environmental groups cheered the EPA letter, which they said highlighted the possible environmental destruction the pipeline could cause.

“With this rating, the EPA is standing up for the people who would be hurt by the Keystone XL pipeline, including Midwest farmers and low-income people around Texas refineries,” Alex Moore, dirty fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth, an environmental group, said Tuesday.

“All eyes are on Secretary of State Clinton,” Moore added. “Will she comply with the law and ensure that these impacts are studied or not?”

U.S. officials have pledged to decide on the pipeline project by the end of the year, although the State Department said this week it would hold public meetings on the proposal in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington, D.C.

The State Department released a second environmental study on the project in April, concluding that no new issues had been revealed since a similar report was completed last year.

Environmental groups said the report glossed over crucial issues such as pipeline safety and the risks posed by the proposed route over the massive Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to people in eight states.

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil’s industry top lobbying group, said Keystone XL would create thousands of jobs and prevent China and other nations from tapping into the vast resources of the Alberta tar sands.

“Other nations will aggressively develop this key strategic resource for their future energy needs if we fail to act,” API chief executive officer Jack Gerard said in a letter to Clinton.

Republican lawmakers and other project supporters have warned that if the pipeline is not built, Canada will construct alternative routes to the West Coast and ship oil sands crude to China and other parts of Asia.

16 Comments

  1. HoustonVoter

    Is there any reason why Canada couldn’t “construct alternative routes to the West Coast and ship oil sands crude to” the United States? I mean, it’s a commodity, like any other. Canada will ship it to whoever wants to buy it. It doesn’t belong to the United States, but we’re free to purchase it. There are refineries in California, aren’t there? Why can’t they add the pollution to their state instead of us here in Texas? GO EPA! STOP KEYSTONE XL NOW!

    #1
  2. Mark from Louisiana

    Texas and Louisiana should shut down every pipeline that leads to Washington for a year or two. For safety inspections of course :-)

    #2
  3. BOB

    I think they should shut down the pipelines that serve New York City and Washington Dc.

    #3
  4. Cecil

    Just another example of the Obama administration’s campaign to punish Texas any way it can. Disgusting. When will 2012 get here?

    #4
  5. Dollar

    Well, why don’t we all just start walking every where we go, then no one will have any refineries to deal with.

    We could just devolve into the old west, horses and gun fights … yeee hi ?

    How are those electric cars coming along ? Got those windmills crankin out enough voltage yet ?

    #5
  6. Godiva55

    The EPA objects to anything that would help this country and especially Texas.

    These “environmental terrorists” should be shut down.

    Who monitors THEM? Because they need it.

    #6
  7. Fiftycal

    The O-BOMB-AH cabal continues to do everything it can to HURT THIS NATION! They WANT $6 a gallon gas. They WANT shortages. They WANT to turn this country into a mirror image of the europeon socialist states that they idolize.

    We can’t get rid of them soon enough.

    #7
  8. ntangle

    Why are they acting as though no crude oil pipelines have ever crossed KS, NE, et al? And why is the EPA in the lead on this? Aren’t p/l’s regulated by DOT (PHMSA) & FERC? Our EPA cannot stop Canada from producing its bitumen. It can only force Canada to find a way to ship it to other customers.

    #8
  9. Skeep

    Of course they object, they do what the administration tells them to do. Instead of finding a reasonable way to get a job done, they do everything in their power to impede progress of any kind. The epa is our own personal Taliban.

    #9
  10. Ivar

    Maybe they are trying to gloss over the pipleline spill risk assessment due to Keystone’s track record? Just do the paperwork.

    #10
  11. wantingbalance

    I just ran the entire article through my Associated Press Interpretation Program and discovered that what the story really says is that an agency operated by a Czar selected by the current President will implement new rules to make foreign oil even more important to this country ensuring that we become less energy independent. Remember, this is the same group that showed up about 6 weeks after the gulf oil spill and is still trying to get Louisiana to stop protecting its own shores saying that’s the role of the federal government…or was that immigration? Either way, the feds have not been successful.

    #11
  12. Bobo Jones

    Is it too late to bring back President Bush?

    #12
  13. Govchance

    Houston voter, pielines are much safer than shipping oil. Fact is, it is probably the safest way to transport oil. All we ever hear is that we need to wean ourselves off mid-east oil. Well here is the perfect opportunity to do so. Plus lots of jobs and big stimulus to economy. Folks, whether you like it or not, we need this oil. If not, China will be glad to take it.

    #13
  14. Jerry McEachern

    The Keystone pipeline can use existing right-of-way without adding damage to the enviroment. Several crude oil and clean product pipelines run from the Gulf Coast to the mid-continent of the United States today. Futhermore, I understand that Canadian crude oil is presently being shipped by rail from Canada to St.James, Louisiana, daily in the amount of 5,000 barrels per day and will soon grow to 10,000 ba4rels a day. One train wreck would possisbly release 420,000 gallons of oil. I understand plans are to ultimately use tank trains moving many thousands of barrels to the Gulf Coast daily, if the pipeline is not approved.
    Seems someone is attempting to boost the use of rail lines as opposed to a pipeline.

    #14
  15. Bryan

    Houston Voter – you have know idea what you are talking about. Enviromental concerns would be the same if they sent it to Texas or California. The risk is so minimal that the EPA has to use the lame liberal tactic of “standing up for the poor people”. This is just another way of the Obama admin. trying to break the economy and nothing more than that. China is already in our back yard drilling offshore and they will be to our north if we let the EPA have its way.

    #15
  16. EnergyMoron

    Undeclared ar in Libya is what Obama prefers.

    For Republicans and Democrats alike who of them cares about human rights?

    The EPA can care less about human rights and only the fishes.

    #16