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TransCanada Reapplies for Round 2 of Keystone XL Fight
Keystone XL, the “zombie pipeline,” is officially back from the grave. TransCanada, the corporation behind the massive tar sands project, reapplied on Friday for a Presidential Permit to begin construction. The pipeline would carry up to 900,000 barrels a day of Alberta tar sands crude oil 1,700 miles to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Jeremy Symons, senior vice president of the National Wildlife Federation, said:
“It’s hard to tell what’s really new about TransCanada’s application, which continues to threaten Nebraska’s iconic Sandhills and its critical Ogallala aquifer. It’s just the latest broken promise from TransCanada, which has threatened to seize Nebraskan lands by eminent domain and claimed its Keystone I pipeline would spill very rarely, then spilled 12 times in its first year of operation.”
The Alberta-based company is already planning to move forward with the project’s southern segment(from Cushing, OK to the Port Arthur, TX). Because the southern segment won’t cross an international boundary, the State Department won’t require a presidential permit for it to be built, but the southern segment still needs water permits from the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). TransCanada wants limited review of this dangerous project and they want to stay out of the public eye after the bruising they took during the first round of this fight.They’re betting that it will be harder for the State Department to say no to the rest of the pipeline if a significant portion of it is already in place — However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already said more scrutiny is needed.
There are two different ways the government could choose to approach this application: first, TransCanada is pursuing what is called a Nationwide Permit (NWP) for the Gulf Coast segment of the project with the Corps. Approval under a NWP allows a project like the pipeline to proceed with little project-specific environmental review and almost no public input. In fact, landowners impacted by the project may not even know approval has been granted to dig up their land until the bulldozers show up. Under a second scenario, the project would have to be considered for “individual permits” under the Clean Water Act, one of our nation’s bedrock environmental laws. The EPA has stated that TransCanada must apply for individual permits because the impacts of the pipeline are too significant for authorization under a nationwide permit. The individual permit process provides for more rigorous examination as well as an opportunity for landowners and the public to review the application materials and provide comment. Given the fact that 900 wetlands and waters would be impacted, and considering TransCanada’s terrible track record (Keystone 1 pipeline spilled 12times in its first year of operation), it is imperative that this project is carefully considered under a transparent process before any construction begins.
As NWF’s Jeremy Symons argues,
“The only thing this pipeline would guarantee is billions in annual profit for oil companies, while risking long-lasting damage to our waters and lands. That’s why oil companies have pushed so hard to have their allies in Congress take this decision out of the hands of safety regulators – they know if Keystone XL is judged fairly on its impacts on America’s land, water, wildlife and climate, it doesn’t stand a chance.”
It’s not just US citizens who are concerned about TransCanada’s project and its effects on our land, water, wildlife, people, and our climate. Canadians are also worried about the development of this dirty fuel. Tar sands is the world’s dirtiest form of oil and its extraction is extremely destructive to the Boreal Forest. Booming tar sands operations in Canada are destroying wildlife habitat at an increasing pace–pushing woodland caribou to the brink of extinction and prompting plans to poison and shoot thousands of wolves in a cruel effort to “protect” the caribou.