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EXPLICATION OF TRANSCANADA’S LITERATURE ON KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE
~ Nita Pomeroy
Note from the Author:
I initially wrote this article early in 2015. I researched
many sites, but unfortunately, I did not keep a list of
every site a visited. Much of what I have written is
common knowledge or is what I learned when studying
environmental chemistry in the late 1980s. Much of
what I talk about is part of the public domain and I
didn’t think it necessary, at the time, or that I would
need to document every site I visited.*
My introduction to the idea of climate change, often
referred to as global warming, occurred in Dr. Harold
Taylor’s biology class at Amphitheater High School
during the 1966-1967 school year. Apparently, this was at about the same time that Exxon, among other companies, were discovering how badly the climate would be affected by continued drilling and use of fossil fuels. So, my interest in this topic is long-standing, as is my increasing frustration at people who say “I am not a scientist, but I do not believe in climate change…”
The evidence for climate change has been gathered since at least the 1950s and is currently substantiated or agreed upon by 97% of the world’s scientists. For anyone to deny the scientific basis of climate change is like someone saying they don’t “believe” in gravity because they can’t see it, smell it or taste it. Disbelief in natural laws does not make them disappear; natural laws exist whether we believe in them or not. It is like someone deciding he didn’t believe in gravity so he stepped off the Empire State building and expected not to fall. He’s going to fall whether or and not he believes in gravity.
And so it is with pollution and the destruction of the environment. We cannot flood the earth’s atmosphere with carbon dioxide by continually burning fossil fuels without there being consequences. We cannot remove large swaths of our remaining temperate boreal forests, which uses carbon dioxide and produces oxygen, without there being consequences. We cannot continue to ignore large quantities of toxic chemicals seeping into our earth, into our groundwater, without there being consequences.
What astounds me, is the determined blindness of my people to the generational consequences of their actions. Their determination to do whatever it takes to acquire material wealth no matter the cost frightens me. A result of our behavior and our choices is that we are on the brink of a worldwide disaster of our own making. That it continues to be debated and denied at the highest levels of government is criminal.
On January 24, 2017, the president of the United States of America signed an executive order authorizing the completion of both the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access pipelines. In his signing statements, he commented that it would create 28,000 new jobs. Good construction jobs he said. That number has been debunked years ago. Even if it were true, those jobs are only temporary, they are not permanent jobs. The number of permanent job to he created? Perhaps as many as 50, but more likely only 35 permanent jobs will be created as a result of Keystone XL pipeline.
Back in early 2015, when I began researching this particular pipeline, I was vigorously opposed to it. But one night, I realized I had never really read anything supporting the Keystone pipeline. So, I went online and found TransCanada’s tract.
The Keystone XL Pipeline is a bad deal. Of course, all the 'facts' supplied by TransCanada are going to show that it is safe. But even a cursory examination of their information shows it to be full of bias, half-truths and intentional misdirection.
We expect our elected officials to be able to see though this type of doublespeak, not the proponents of such. That is what they are elected to do and what they are paid the big bucks to do!
Keystone XL Facts and Myths
The FSEIS projects that seventeen out of 27 counties which Keystone XL crosses are expected to see tax revenues increase by 10 per cent or more. This would contribute to approximately $3.4 billion to U.S. GDP and an overall economic boost for America.
The DEIS report states:
Construction of the proposed project would contribute approximately $3.4 billion to U.S. GDP if implemented.
The USGDP as of December 2014 was $16.19 trillion (16.19 x 1012) (US REAL GDP BY YEAR).
TransCanada claims $3.4 billion (3.4 x 109) value added to USGDP by construction of pipeline.
This calculates as 2.104 x 10-2% -- or 0.02%, or two hundredths of 1%. Or two pennies out of $100. That is the value of the expected revenue during the active construction of the pipeline.
A total of 42,100 jobs throughout the United States would be supported by construction of the proposed project.
The jobs numbers are questionable. ransCanada was counting a job once for every year it existed. Therefore, a job lasting for 2 years would count as two jobs, a job earning money in three years would count as three jobs, and so forth. It is obvious that this type of manipulation would make it seem that there were a larger number of jobs than there actually were.
Current estimates are about 9,000 TEMPORARY jobs and 35 PERMANENT jobs.
Total employment earnings supported by the proposed project would be approximately $2.053 billion.
The first Keystone Pipeline directly employed 8,969 workers, the recently completed Gulf Coast Pipeline directly employed 4,844, Keystone XL will put 9,000 more U.S. laborers to work on this much-needed critical energy infrastructure project.
Trans Canada claims a little more than $2 billion (2,053 x 109) divided by 9,000 employees (9 x 103) would pay out a little more than $22,000 per individual.
Here is a chart showing the 2015 Federal Poverty Guidelines – 48 Contiguous States & DC
Persons in Household 100% Federal Poverty Level
This is the “great construction job” Trump mentioned when he signed the executive order authorizing TransCanada to complete construction on Keystone XL.
Fact: Not a drop of crude oil will be exported.
This is true. But TransCanada is transporting tar sands oil through its pipeline, not crude oil. And, yes, there is a difference. Tar sands oil is thicker than even extra-heavy crude oil. Due to its high viscosity, it does not float on water, as does crude oil, but falls as sediment to the lake, creek or river bottom, making clean-up extremely difficult. Which means it is that much more difficult and costly, as well as taking a far greater length of time to clean up. One such leak is still not cleaned up even though it has been almost 10 years since clean-up started. (NDPL3M)
The Keystone XL Pipeline is not a crude oil export pipeline — period.
Uh, the tar sands oil originates in Canada and crosses an international border into the U.S., it IS exporting tar sands oil! Period! But, the reason they can make such a statement without blushing in shame is that, technically, tar sands oil is not crude oil!
It is a supply line to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries — which have signed up to 20-year binding commercial contracts to receive oil through Keystone XL. This much-needed oil will allow refineries to create products that we all rely on every day — gasoline for our vehicles, aviation fuels, and diesel fuels to help transport goods throughout the continent.
But not many NEW jobs. Refineries are already staffed and operational. And tar sands oil causes more pollution than crude oil brought in from Venezuela and OPEC nations.
It makes absolutely no sense for companies to purchase cheaper Canadian crude, and then pay (again) to ship that product overseas, while continuing to import higher-priced oil from the Middle East and Venezuela.
I believe that the cost to transport anything from U.S. to any foreign port will be paid by the purchaser, not the seller. In addition, the higher priced crude from the Middle East and Venezuela is a much better quality of oil than the tar sands oil. Tar sands oil produces about 12% more emissions while producing lower amounts of carbon for fuel per ton mined. PLUS, the strip-mining style of extracting tar sands increases the carbon footprint immensely by removing the carbon sink created by the temperate boreal forests of Canada.
The U.S. is an overwhelming net importer of crude oil.
Tar sands oil is being IMPORTED from Canada – a foreign oil supplier. It is estimated that it will contribute only about 5% of the oil we need in the U.S., yet it will have a very great carbon footprint just to extract, ready it for transport and refine.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) have both forecast the U.S. will still need to import oil to meet its domestic demand for decades, despite growing oil production in the U.S. U.S. and Canadian production tranposrted [sic] by will displace more expensive crude oils from less stable countries.
Tar sands oil produces a significant increase in sulfur- and nitrogen-oxides, the leading causes of acid rain and smog. Sulfur oxides are also implicated in increased respiratory health problems. The amount of carbon derived for fuel purposes is about half that as regular crude oil – and the strip mining necessary to reach the tar sands deposits destroys the CO2 sinks provided by the boreal forest.
MYTH: “Landowners are responsible and liable in the event of an oil spill.”
Fact: TransCanada is 100 per cent responsible for responding, cleaning and restoring the site in the unlikely event of a pipeline leak.
Leaks are not unlikely, they are expected to happen. In its first year of operation, Keystone had 12 leaks. In the first year! The article I read went on to state that it was expected that there would only be 2 leaks a year, most of them ‘small.' I am not sure that there is a volume “small” enough to have no impact on the location where occurs. The impact is more dependent on what spills as even a small amount of many of the oil industry’s spills contain highly toxic chemicals in a liquid form that can spread easily. Not to mention that a small-scale leak is easier to escape notice than a large spill.
It’s our responsibility – as a good company and under law. If anything happens on the Keystone XL Pipeline, rapid response is key.
TransCanada’s “rapid response” relies on bi-weekly aerial surveys, followed by a team of specialists to deal with the leak/spill.
That’s why our Emergency Response plans are approved by state and federal agencies, and why we practice them regularly. We conduct regular emergency exercises, and aerial surveys every two weeks.
On January 6 of this year, 2015, a pipeline leak was detected in western North Dakota, spilling 3 million gallons of brine, a by-product of oil drilling, extraction and production. It was estimated that it had been leaking about two weeks, during which time interval an aerial inspection had been done. This is an example of how insufficient an aerial survey once every two weeks is.
Tar sands oil poses a greater threat to pipeline integrity and a greater challenge for clean-up. Tar sands oil which has been prepped for transported through the pipelines, has a higher acidity and is transported at higher temperatures, both of which accelerate the rates of corrosion. Because it is thicker and more viscous, it tends to sink to the bottom of water sources and is highly sticky, making it harder to isolate and clean up.
Tailings ponds from the strip mining process needed to extract the tar sandsoil, frequently leak and has been making its way downstream and into both drinking water sources and into plants and wildlife. Increasing numbers of tumors have been found in fish and a significant increase in cancer rates has likewise has been found in local populations of people. Entire flocks of migrating birds have died after they have settled onto tailing ponds to rest during migration.
We’re ready to respond with a highly-trained response team standing by.
The spill occurred on the crossing over the Yellowstone River. It took a little more than 24 hours for the response team to arrive and begin containment of the spill, during which time about 1200 barrels, about 40,000 gallons, of oil discharged into the Yellowstone River. Cleanup is still underway. Good even very sick, viscous liquids, keep migrating through whatever substrate it is in contact with you. It takes time to clean up oil spills and the longer it takes for clean-up, the more area or volume is affected by the spill. It often is a no-win situation. Oil-spill clean-up relies on dispersal as the main method of clean-up, especially when it occurs on large volumes of liquid like the ocean. This means as repetitive spills occur the accumulation of oil residue becomes increasingly significant.
At TransCanada, we continually look at ways to improve our system. Since 2011, TransCanada has invested an average of about $900 million per year in its pipeline integrity and maintenance programs.
- See more at: http://keystone-xl.com/facts/myths-facts/#sthash.n6uY6yXk.dpuf
Myth: TransCanada does not work with Native American tribes.
Fact: Keystone XL does not cross any reservation lands or lands held in trust.
TransCanada also claims that the pipeline will not cross any Reservations. This is a blatant lie. The pipeline originates in and passes through First Nation Reserves in Canada. In the United States, the pipeline passes within 500 feet of reservation voters and it crosses over land that, by treaty, was promised in perpetuity to native people for hunting and fishing. The pipeline also passes over aquifers which provide not just for Anglo use for drinking and farming, but also to for native populations to use as needed. For instance, the Oglala Aquifer will be depleted within 100 years due to overuse by white population, meaning even a small spill could ruin what was left of the aquifer for everyone.
Despite this, we work with tribes over the entire lifecycle of the project, to constructively and proactively address any concerns and to develop long-lasting mutually beneficial relationships and to discuss issues and opportunities
TransCanada strives to create employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Native American communities along our pipeline routes. Last year, we spent more than $50 million in contracting and hiring in Aboriginal and Native American communities across North America.
As part of the construction team, tribal monitors are cross-trained in a number of areas, including wild land fire, heritage resource archeology and first aid, as well as having college degrees in a variety of disciplines.
Per Athabascan Cree First Nations (ACFN, all that TransCanada is doing is trying to buy them off. They are unwilling to discuss any of the ACFN’s concerns about the water pollution, the destruction of the boreal forest and other habitats necessary to sustain ACFN traditional hunting and fishing rights, nor are they addressing the long term environmental degradation and its health impact on resident populations.
TransCanada also claims that the pipeline will not cross any Reservations or threaten wildlife and natural resources. This is a blatant lie. The pipeline originates in First Nations Reserves and passes through traditional hunting and fishing grounds, which are protected through provisions in Treaty 8. It transverses 56 rivers and an untold number of creeks, streams and intermittent spring drainages in Canada. It passes within yards of Reservation housing and crosses the Oglala Aquifer, in addition to major and minor waterways in the U.S.
As I said in the beginning, this is just what I gathered from quickly reading the pamphlet produced by TransCanada in order to justify their Keystone XL project. I am sure that there is more that could be discerned from a more careful reading accompanied by serious research. I feel that TransCanada was trying to do was calm the fears and doubts by people who really don’t care about the environment that instead are more concerned with the fiscal incentives of allowing yet another pipeline to cross our land. One significant and irrefutable truth exists when we talk about pipelines and that is: pipelines leak. Not if, but when and how often.
* Editor's Note: As the article does not contain the original references per the author, we encourage you to search online to determine your opinions and discover recent developments which are ongoing. The author has provided the following link for your assistance: http://keystone-xl.com/facts/myths-facts/#sthash.n6uY6yXk.dpuf