Keystone XL … A Hollow Victory?

Last week I reported about the spill of 210,000 gallons of oil from the Keystone XL pipeline, and expressed hopes that somehow this would sway the Nebraska Public Service Commission that was set to vote yesterday on whether or not to grant approval for the final stage of the pipeline that would go through Nebraska.    So what happened yesterday?

Predictably, the commission voted that the pipeline may proceed through Nebraska … BUT … it is not the win TransCanada, the builders of the pipeline, had hoped for.  Why?  Because, while the commission said they could proceed, they mandated that it follow an alternative route.  Hey, it’s an alternative world with alternative facts, so why not an alternative route?  What does all this mean, you ask?

pipeline-new-routeFirst, it means that the project that has been on the drawing board for nine years now will be futher delayed.  Second, you may remember I noted that the two environmental impact studies were outdated (2012 & 2014) and thus did not include last week’s major spill.  With the alternative route, a new environmental impact study could be called for – one that would include the recent spill, as well as the one from last year. Third, the landowners along the new, alternative route, have not had the opportunity of due process, the chance to argue their case before the state commission, which could result in a legal delay. Fourth, with oil prices down significantly from when the project was first proposed, TransCanada was already looking at diminished returns on their investment.  With the legal delays, scheduling changes, and additional costs involved, they could well decide not to proceed with the project at all.

TransCanada’s CEO, Ross Girling, was less than enthusiastic, saying the company is now “assessing how the decision would impact the cost and schedule of the project.” Top financial and market analysts expressed skepticism that the project will ever reach fruition.  Environmental groups opposed to the project are cautiously optimistic.  One such group, Friends of the Earth, sent me this email …

Keystone friends of earthNo, I did not send them a donation, though if I could afford it, I probably would, for it is a good organization and they do good work.

In addition to environmental groups, Native Americans and other landowners would have much preferred the commission to vote down the project altogether. According to Bloomberg …

“Nebraska’s decision overrode the objections of environmental groups, Native American tribes and landowners along the pipeline’s prospective route. The project had the support of the state’s governor, Republican Pete Ricketts, its chamber of commerce, trade unions and the petroleum industry.”

Tells you all you need to know, doesn’t it?

The commissioners who supported the route change said it would impact fewer threatened and endangered species, fewer wells, less irrigated cropland, and that it included one less river crossing. While TransCanada had originally included the alternative route in its proposal, no impact studies were ever done for that route, leading most to believe it was never intended to be considered.

What happens next?  Landowners and environmental groups have 30 days to file an appeal, which I would bet my bottom dollar will happen in well under 30 days. The decision by the Public Service Commission (PSC) was not a complete victory for either side, but it will certainly delay the project further, could possibly halt it based on new environmental impact studies, and could even cause TransCanada to cancel the project.  Time will tell, but for the moment, it seems rather a hollow victory for TransCanada and its wealthy stockholders.  And oh, by the way, speaking of stockholders  …

You may find it interesting to note that Donald Trump holds stock in TransCanada, as well as in Energy Transfer Partners, the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Wow, what a surprise, yes?

Stay tuned ….

37 thoughts on “Keystone XL … A Hollow Victory?

  1. Good news for Trump when he gives Keystone $millions$ in bailouts, he’ll get his cut. After all he’s only there for two things: super-bloat his ego and loot the public treasury, if there’s any of that left…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill, you would think the oil spill would give folks pause. These pipelines breach and oil will spill. I understand that it is the easiest way to transport oil, but it is not without risk to water for drinking and growing crops.

    Since we are passed the tipping point on renewable energy, the best thing to do is seek trade offs. Guaranteed financial protection and action plans if breaches occur. Also, for every one hundred yards (or maybe it is 500) of pipeline, TransCanada has to fund the building of a windmill on the farms it passes through, which will generate monthly rent from the utility. In Texas it is about $5,000 per annum per windmill.

    This oil pipeline is going to happen, so they need to figure out concessions that will be environmentally friendly. Seeking all or nothing will leave the party with the least clout unsuccessful, but if they gain concessions, then it may be more helpful to all.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I would agree that IF it is going to be built ‘come hell or high water’, then the trade-offs, such as the windmills, has much value and should be aggressively sought. But I think there is some doubt that it will be built. You know more about it than I, so your certainty gives me pause for thought, but it seems, from all I read, that with the price of oil being what it is, TransCanada is having second thoughts. I would far prefer to see the money invested in renewable sources, for as you say, we are past the tipping point … let’s get out of the coal and oil business and move on toward less destructive energy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks to you both. One of the key lessons gleaned from the success of the people in “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman” by Miriam Horn about dealing with climate change, is the people highlighted in the book worked with industry for solutions that helped the environment, but allowed them to continue to make a living. They would mention some environmentalists wanted an action to stop, but did not offer a workable solution. It was the “then what?” question. These folks were balanced on the other end by some industry folks who understated the pollution and climate change impact of what they were doing. It amazed me the relationship building that was done to try and reach a solution. The Riverman (there were two other professions not included in the title) spoke of working with the people in the middle to reach a consensus.

        A good example was made by the Kansas farmer. It is less productive to try and grow everything in an effort to be a “farm to table” producer. He said you should grow what grows naturally well in your area. It is not an anomaly that wheat and alfalfa are grown in the Midwest. That is what grows well in the wild. So, it is enviable to reduce transportation costs in a farm to table concept, but the output (and these guys track output and ROI) is better if you grow what grows best. Otherwise, you may waste water and land growing the wrong things.

        The solution to many problems is to listen to and work with those who are at the point of impact. A farmer knows what is happening with climate change. A politician has to be shown.

        Liked by 1 person

        • All excellent points. It is not enough to say, “It’s broken”, but we need to help find solutions, else knowing it’s broken is of little value. Thanks for your insight … I will check out that book … sounds like it provides some insight and food for thought ….


  3. Generally we understand the necessity of moving crude oil to other places. What is so wrong with rail, for that? It’s what they were built for. Costs more, you say? Uses more people and brings plenty of jobs? No kidding? Well that explains that, in a corporate world. Also using pipelines means additives to enable the crude to flow, then extraction at the destinations. More chemicals dumped at a spill site … sigh!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe? You might see how much environmental damage is done producing “alternative” energy, first?

        When crude oil is refined. For many things we enjoy today. Gasoline represents about a bit less than a half. The refining is just splitting up the components. You cannot change any of them. It’s the same for any barrel.

        I would join you with leaving the oil in the ground. Then what? Chop down trees for fuel? Or horses for transport? The dirty energy produced by battery production, is not talked about by the industry. Those same batteries, in cars, also deteriorate quite quickly. A charge for 6 hours driving. Rapidly becomes 3 hours. Charging; even with faster chargers still takes, even at best, an hour. Do we really have to drown good farmland for hydro projects, or burn coal, to produce electricity? Advances in technology are bought up and buried by the bankers. Thinking that humans have more of an impact on this planet than the planet and star themselves? Is erroneous. It is being fed to us by the same bankers who would profit from our dilemmas. This planet and us, is carbon based. Our bodies are made from the stuff.

        Yup, oil is bad news. Yet what real alternatives does the population have? Cheers Jamie

        Liked by 1 person

        • Actually, I would like to see the coal left in the ground too. I was thinking more along the lines of wind, solar and hydro as alternatives to fossil fuels. And it’s not only the bankers, Jamie … big corporations are the main culprits, bloated and overpaid CEOs. And power hungry politicians. No easy answers, but I’m not willing to accept the status quo, for we are on a destructive path and something needs to change. Cheers!!!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I see!

            I guess I’m a little more optimistic and while it seems dark? I see more, of a light at the end of the tunnel, thing. Kaliyug is coming to end and maybe one would see a rapid transformation? The universal cycle moves more slowly. When compared to our life. Stayuga here is coming now as we move into the universal quadrant. Cosmic rays affect the planet. The cycle of doom and destruction, is ending in the last hurrah. I make no prediction for I am not in the prediction business. still other sages would have us accept? I feel that at this point in my life, I’ve generally done enough ranting and raving. I will continue to believe in good and righteous behaviour, That’s all I can do. Change myself, change the world. Cheers Jamie

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I sincerely hope that no more TransCanada pipelines will be built. They have proven to be prone to the most devastating, destructive leaks, poisoning land and water resources for people and animals.

    As for Lord Chaos owning shares in TransCanada? No surprise there at all.

    Liked by 2 people

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