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Jonathan Dewdney

Keystone XL Pipeline awaits US State Department approval

Recent controversy surrounding the potential construction of TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL Pipeline has made it difficult to understand the real story. The public has seen heated debate between hard-core capitalists, passionate environmentalists, ranchers and an octet of Nobel Laureates. As each faction states their passionate views, it must realize that the final decision rests with the US State Department. Only it possesses the legal authority to grant the project a presidential permit of approval, as the pipeline would cross an international boundary.Logistically, the Keystone XL pipeline project would be enormous. At 36” in diameter, it would carry upwards of 830,000 barrels of oil from Hardistay, Alberta, daily, to refineries 2,700 kilometres away on Texas’s Gulf Coast. While it carries a $7-billion price tag, it would stimulate further exploration in the Canadian oil sands (containing more than 173 billion barrels of recoverable crude) and would create some 20,000 jobs.The project is immense and will cross six states, mostly through America’s agricultural heartland, including the Missouri and Niobrara Rivers. These valuable and protected regions are sage grouse habitat, contain walleye fisheries, and most importantly, house the Ogallala Aquifer.The Ogallala Aquifer’s surface water is critical to Nebraskan agriculture, and is consumed by some 2 million residents in the area. The water flows naturally underground, and a serious leak, such one last year, when 850,000 gallons of oil gushed from a damaged pipe in Michigan, would devastate the near-pristine aquifer. The governor of Nebraska has expressed his concerns to TransCanada Corporation, whose company’s VP, Robert Jones, responded, “[Changing the route] is not only impracticable at this point but also more environmentally risky. The company studied eight alternative routes and the planned route was found to be the least environmentally disruptive, a conclusion the State Department also reached in a recent environmental-impact study.”A concern among… Read More