Timing couldn't have been worse for Keystone XL

Friday, November 17, 2017

The news from South Dakota couldn’t have come at a worse time for supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline.

TransCanada Corp. announced Thursday that its older pipeline had sprung a leak, spilling 5,000 barrels of oil — 210,000 gallons — onto agricultural land in Marshall County. It was discovered quickly, the pipeline shut down, and officials don’t believe it has reached any bodies of water.

But the fate of the pipeline that would extend TransCanada through 275 miles of Nebraska, will be decided by the Nebraska Public Service Commission on Monday.

First proposed in 2008, the pipeline’s fate was in limbo until it was rejected by President Barack Obama, then resurrected by President Donald Trump.

Along the way, in 2012, the Nebraska legislature gave the governor power to approve the pipeline route, but that law was overturned, throwing the decision back to the Public Service Commission.

The 36-inch pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of oil from northern Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.

We can thank Canadian tar sands for the relatively stable price of gasoline, but tar sands can’t be pushed through pipelines. That requires dilution of the bitumen that will be refined into oil, to give it the consistency of crude so it will flow.

The exact chemicals used to dilute the bitumen are a trade secret, but pipeline opponents say they include known carcinogens.

In previous spills into rivers, the substance at first floated, as one would expect from oil, but soon separated into its components, the heavier bitumen sinking to the bottom of the stream, making cleanup extremely difficult.

The current Keystone pipeline can handle nearly 600,000 barrels of oil a day, passing through the eastern Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma.

Even if Nebraska’s PSC approves the route, groups like Bold Nebraska and the Sierra Club have vowed to challenge in court the use of eminent domain by a foreign corporation to obtain right-of-way for the pipeline.

Proponents say pipelines are the most efficient way to transport oil, requiring significantly less energy to operate than trucks or rail, and have a lower carbon footprint. As the Keystone XL controversy illustrates, however, they come with their own concerns over potential environmental damage and denial of property rights.

Rail uses existing infrastructure, but carbon emissions, speed and accidents are a drawback.

Trucks are often the last link in the transportation chain, but also have carbon and safety concerns.

Ships can actually be a cheaper way to transport oil, depending on the route, but have some of the same drawbacks as rail and trucks.

Tesla introduced a new electric semi truck this week with a 500-mile range, as well as a sports car with record acceleration, but it will be a long time before crude oil isn’t a key component of our transportation needs and overall economy.

We owe it to future generations to make sure energy is delivered in as safe a manner as possible, but we should be able to do that without penalizing responsible use of energy resources.

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  • First… If American soil is going to be poisoned, it at least should be poisoned by an American who's padding his pockets, not a foreigner!

    Second… Just because TransCanada Corporation says that their oil spill did not reach any bodies of water, that would include the aquifers, doesn't mean there wasn't or isn't an ecological affect on those where the spill happened.

    Third… Eminent domain, in my eyes is unconstitutional! The government should not be able to overtake owned land by its own constituents!! That would be no different then seizing Americans armaments just for the governments own proclivity.

    Fourth… This has been going on long before Trump was elected into the White House, so whether or not he reinstated it or not, it hasn't lost traction since it's inception.

    Finally, in a day and age where there is truly free power, but that free power doesn't create riches for the elite, we are still creating carbon footprints which will ultimately become the demise of our future generations.

    My children, and my grandchildren matter to me! Until we rid the world of those individuals which are poisoning our earth for the here and now, and their own self worth, without regard to the general public, let alone their own children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, we will continue to see in earth turn from green and blue to brown. If a person doesn't care about their children and grandchildren's interests above their own agenda, how can we allow them to dictate how we, as a global society, become extinct from this planet?

    Sometimes you not only have to see the signs, you have to be alerted of them. This spill is not an exception, it's the norm. You don't hear about the small spills because they are quickly swept under the carpet at the cost of a bribe to a governing official, only the large spills get notoriety. But what one fails to acknowledge,is that the small spills, as quantitive as they are, add up to a large spill and are often times more spread out than a single large spill incident.

    Take a stand now America, and demand that our usage of fossil fuel becomes diminished! It's time to evolve.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Fri, Nov 17, 2017, at 2:47 PM
  • 5,000 barrels is insignificant I would suppose, but that is still tantamount to 25 semi loads being unloaded on the ground. Interesting that the original piece so matter of factly stated that the Canadian Tar Sands were responsible for relatively stable gas prices. Google it, even the people in the oil and gas industry aren't in agreement on that.

    -- Posted by hulapopper on Sun, Nov 19, 2017, at 5:20 AM
  • If they go ahead and build an oil pipeline through the sandhills, what would honestly be the harm in putting up some wind generators and another transmission line? I seriously doubt that any of this oil will benefit the US consumer, takes a lot of energy to run all of the manufacturing in China which is the most likely destination. Bet there is no uproar from the opponents of NPPD about this desecration of the natural beauty of the Sand Hills like there has been about the transmission line and the only way that power ever gets to China is going to be through Chinese investment in a transcontinental extension.

    -- Posted by nebraskamike on Mon, Nov 20, 2017, at 12:35 PM
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