Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

Is the Keystone XL Pipeline in the National Interest?

President Obama has a decision to make: Whether the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is in the “National Interest” and therefore whether it should be permitted. The Final Supplemental Environmental Statement by the State Department earlier this year, seemed non-committal on this point.

The Keystone XL pipeline is not in the national interest. This pipeline, which is proposed to carry Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast, is for the purpose of generating profit for a private company – it is for a private use. It will generate very few jobs, and the oil is destined for export markets. It threatens agriculture, environment, and safety.

Seriously, Still No Emergency Response Plan?

Though in the last few years since Keystone XL has been proposed Montana experienced a major oil pipeline spill in the Yellowstone River, not to mention the tar sands oil pipeline spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan which years later is still not reclaimed, neither our federal government, nor our state government, nor the company proposing to construct the Keystone XL pipeline has issued an Emergency Response Plan for the project. The emergency personnel (largely volunteers) and the potentially affected property owners and others who live near the pipeline deserve an opportunity to comment on TransCanada’s Emergency Response Plan prior to approval.

Nebraskans Point Out: Problem Hasn’t Been Fixed

Politicians in Nebraska worked with TransCanada to reroute around the Ogallala Aquifer. However, the new route still goes through it, threatening the drinking and irrigation water of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Read about Nebraska citizens’ on-going efforts here.

Academic Studies Address Pipeline’s True Jobs Potential

Report Outlines Worst-case Scenario

John S. Stansbury, Ph.D., a professor of engineering at the University of Nebraska, released a report on July 11, 2011 titled, Analysis of Frequency, Magnitude and Consequence of Worst-Case spills from the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline.

Stansbury’s analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline estimated that a spill on the Missouri River could contaminate the river with over 134,000 barrels of oil and a spill on the Yellowstone River from the Keystone XL pipeline could release over 188,000 barrels of oil. Contamination of benzene on any major river (like the Missouri and the Yellowstone) could exceed drinking water standards for over 450 miles.

TransCanada says spill response time for the Keystone XL pipeline would be 11 minutes and 30 seconds; however, the June 2010 spill of more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River along the Enbridge pipeline, another tar sands pipeline, was not shut down for 12 hours! Stansbury says a conservative estimate of response time would easily be ten times the 11 minute and 30 seconds that TransCanada reported.

Stansbury says of his motivation for the report, “To provide my decision-makers – legislators, governors and State Department folks – with an independent, unbiased assessment of the potential spills and impacts from those spills.”

The 2011 Exxon pipeline oil spill on the Yellowstone River showcases the fact that spills do happen, and emergency responders are often not prepared to deal with their impacts when they do.

An Emergency Response Plan has still not been released by TransCanada for the Keystone XL pipeline. Emergency responders and people living along the pipeline need to know what to do in the case of emergency, and have the plan to review prior to the construction of the pipeline.

Stansbury’s report can be found online at

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