Tar Sands Pipeline Company Admits Playing Fast and Loose with Safety

Canadian oil giant TransCanada will abandon, for now, its bid to pump dirty tar sands oil at higher than normal pressures. They sought a waiver from normal safety procedures, until recent disasters and public pressure forced them to concede. They are expected to continue to push to use thinner than recommended steel on the proposed 2,000 mile proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The step looks like a PR stunt to fool people into thinking the pipeline will be safer and won’t leak.  At any time, the company could seek an application to pump at higher pressures after the pipeline is built, which is clearly what they’d prefer. 

Jim Lyon, vice president of the National Wildlife Federation decried the move as a public relations stunt. In a press statement, he said:


“As pleased as we are to see TransCanada abandoning its plan to pump oil at dangerous pressures, this move doesn’t erase the industry’s lousy accident and safety record. This pipeline will still be built with thinner steel that threatens communities, water and wildlife habitat across the American landscape.  If anything, this raises more questions about why TransCanada proposed such an irresponsible approach at the outset. We should not be duped by TransCanada. They will do everything to maximize profit at the expense of safety.” Pipelinefire 1


In states that would be crossed by the pipeline — including Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas — citizens have protested the plan and called for cancellation of the pipeline altogether.

Recently NWF released the report, “Staying Hooked on a Dirty Fuel: Why Canadian Tar Sands are a Bad Bet for the United States” (available at www.nwf.org/tarsands). It looks at the dangers of tar sands development both to the Canadian and American environment, and global threat they pose because they emit higher greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil or gas.

You have a say!  Take action and tell the federal government not to get duped by dirty oil.

(Image – a 2007 Enbridge pipeline fire that resulted in two deaths. Photo by Tom Burford)