Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Protests Greet the Keystone XL South as it Makes its First Deliveries of Oil

On January 22, 2014 the Keystone XL South made its first deliveries of oil. The Keystone XL saga has been an ongoing drama for years now. The seemingly endless starts and stops, misrepresentations and outright corruption that are part of this story would be comical if the soap opera did not have such deleterious environmental consequences.

We know that we will not be able to curtail the worst impacts of climate change and expand our use of petrochemicals, particularly the tar sands, the world's most destructive form of fossil fuels.

The southern leg of the Keystone XL links the crude oil hub in Cushing, Okla., with terminals in Southeast Texas. The builder of the Keystone pipeline project is TransCanada, the same company that hopes to extend the pipeline from Alberta's tar sands all the way to Texas. A decision on the northern leg of the pipeline is not expected until after the 2014 midterm elections.

In addition to the environmental toll from burning more oil, the southern leg of Keystone pipeline is plagued with documented anomalies including faulty welds and dents. These anomalies are causing many to question whether the pipeline can safely transport tar sands oil.

Even the US Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has cited construction problems in two warning letters sent to TransCanada in September.

The opening of the pipeline was met with opposition from groups like Nacogdoches County Stop Tar Sands Oil Permanently (NacSTOP) as well as Texas activists and the public interest group, Public Citizen.

Bill McKibben founder of 350.org said, "[this is a] shameful day – and a reminder that the Obama administration has boasted too often about how many pipelines they’ve built, how much land they’ve opened to drilling and mining. Expediting Keystone XL South was not the mark of a President who really ‘gets’ climate change."

While the President may feel compelled to cave to political pressure ahead of this year's midterm elections, the Keystone XL does not represent the kind of leadership that many had hoped for. 

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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