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While America Spars Over Keystone XL, A Vast Network Of Pipelines Is Quietly Being Approved

Environment  (tags: animals, climate-change, CO2emissions, destruction, ecosystems, endangered, energy, environment, globalwarming, habitatdestruction, healthconditions, politics, pollution, science, Sustainabililty, trees, water, weather )

- 1763 days ago -
After countless marches, arrests, Congressional votes, and editorials, the five-and-a-half year battle over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is nearing its end. If a recent ruling in Nebraska doesn't delay the decision further, [....]


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Kit B (276)
Thursday March 20, 2014, 10:29 am
Map Credit: Think Progress and Andrew Breiner

After countless marches, arrests, Congressional votes, and editorials, the five-and-a-half year battle over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is nearing its end. If a recent ruling in Nebraska doesn’t delay the decision further, America could find out as soon as this spring whether or not the pipeline, which has become a focal point in America’s environmental movement, will be built.

But while critics and proponents of Keystone XL have sparred over the last few years, numerous pipelines — many of them slated to carry the same Canadian tar sands crude as Keystone — have been proposed, permitted, and even seen construction begin in the U.S. and Canada. Some rival Keystone XL in size and capacity; others, when linked up with existing and planned pipelines, would carry more oil than the 1,179-mile pipeline.

With the public eye turned on Keystone, some of these pipelines have faced little opposition. But it’s not just new pipelines that worry Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust. Weimer said companies are beginning to revamp old pipelines by expanding their capacity or reversing their flow, changes that can be troubling if proper safety measures aren’t put in place.

“Some of these pipelines have been in the ground for 40, 50, 60 years, so they were put in the ground before pipelines had the latest and greatest coatings or before the welding was up to snuff,” he said. “So there’s lots of issues about how you verify that the pipe that’s been in the ground that long is really up to additional pressures.”

Weimer said that while Keystone has served as a distraction from these other pipelines, it’s also increased the public’s awareness of the dangers of transporting tar sands crude. But post-Keystone decision, he said, he’s not sure whether that interest will wane, or whether activists will pick right back up where they left off on Keystone and tackle other pipeline proposals.

“It could go either way,” he said. “It could be that people put so much energy into Keystone that if it gets approved it might take the wind out of everybody’s sails, and they’ll figure ‘what’s the point,’ or it might be that there’s a lot more people that are interested and will continue on with all these other ones.”

America will have to wait for the White House’s decision on Keystone XL to find out. Meanwhile, here are ten other pipelines — projects that haven’t been waylayed by international approval processes or political skirmishes — you should know about.

Energy East ( see map at Site)

If Energy East is approved, the pipeline would carry about 1.1 million barrels of tar sands crude each day — a huge capacity compared to Keystone XL’s 830,000 barrels per day (bpd) — from Saskatchewan and Alberta’s Athabasca region to Canada’s East Coast. About two-thirds of the pipeline already exists, meaning a major part of the project will be converting that existing line, which carries natural gas, into a crude oil pipeline.

The pipeline has gotten some push-back in Canada, however. A February report from the Pembina Institute found Energy East would have an even greater impact on the climate than Keystone XL, with the potential to generate 30 to 32 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year — the equivalent of adding more than seven million cars to the roads, and more than the 22 million metric tons that the think tank predicts Keystone XL will produce. And a March report from multiple Canadian environmental organizations argued that the benefits of Energy East to Canadian oil refineries had been overblown.

Enbridge filed its project description for the pipeline with the National Energy Board in early March, marking the first step in the pipeline’s approval process.

Line 9 Reversal And Expansion

On March 6, Canada’s National Energy Board approved Enbridge’s Line 9 expansion and reversal plan, which will allow the currently westward-flowing Line 9 pipeline to flow east, enabling it to carry 300,000 barrels of tar sands from Alberta to refineries in Quebec each day. The NEB’s approval of the plan will hold only if Enbridge meets 30 conditions laid out by the NEB relating to emergency response, public consultation and other safety issues. Enbridge has one year to meet these conditions and cannot begin the reversal operations until the conditions are met and the pipeline is inspected.

Environmentalists have decried the NEB’s decision to approve the project. “Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline project is a recipe for disaster,” Adam Scott of Canada’s Environmental Defense said. “The 39-year-old pipeline runs directly through the most densely populated parts of Canada, threatening the health, safety and environment of Canadians.”

But it’s not just Canadians who are concerned about the pipeline. The reversal means tar sands will be travelling dangerously close to communities in New England, and the pipeline will connect at the end of its route to another pipeline that could carry the crude to Portland, Maine. Enbridge has denied that this is their plan, saying they won’t ship Line 9′s tar sands past the Canadian border, but New England residents are still worried.

“Today’s decision should energize residents of New England to stand up and say unequivocally: We do not want tar sands in our communities and we do not want to play any role in encouraging the tar sands industry to continue with its irresponsible and dangerous development,” NRDC’s Canada Project Director Danielle Droitsch wrote in a blog post on March 7.

Alberta Clipper Expansion -- See Map---

Enbridge is already in the process of increasing the capacity of the existing Alberta Clipper pipeline from 450,000 to 570,000 barrels per day by installing new pumps and metering terminals along the route. Ultimately, the company seeks to increase the pipeline’s capacity to 880,000 bpd — more than the capacity of Keystone XL — but approval for that is still in the works. The existing pipeline carries tar sands crude from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, and was shut down last month after a leak at a Saskatchewan pump station spilled about 125 barrels of oil.

The expansion project has faced some opposition. In January, the Sierra Club called on the State Department to consider the cumulative effects of the Alberta Clipper expansion in its review of the Keystone XL pipeline — but overall, Alberta Clipper hasn’t gotten the attention Keystone XL has.

“We’re very concerned this has flown under the public’s radar,” Peter LaFontaine, an energy policy advocate for the National Wildlife Federation told Bloomberg News in May. “The public doesn’t seem to have the same sort of attention for pipeline expansions as they do for pipeline construction. But we’re talking about a lot of crude.”

The State Department announced on February 14 that the permitting process for the Alberta Clipper expansion would be delayed beyond the anticipated mid-2014 decision.

White Cliffs Twin Pipeline

On March 17, commissioners in Adams County, Colorado approved the construction of the White Cliffs Twin Pipeline, which will carry crude oil 527 miles from Platteville, Colorado to Cushing, Oklahoma. The pipeline will run along an existing pipeline, a twinning effort that will give the two pipelines a total capacity of about 150,000 bpd.

According to the Denver Post, most of the Adams County residents who showed up to the pipeline’s public hearing supported the project — all except one, who said the approval of the pipeline meant the county’s residents were “selling ourselves down the wrong road.”

Northern Gateway -- Map at Site

If the $7.9-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project is approved, two pipelines will be built stretching about 730 miles from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia. One pipeline will transport approximately 525,000 barrels of tar sands bitumen each day from Alberta to B.C. for export to Asian markets, while the other would carry around 193,000 barrels per day of condensate, the mix of liquid hydrocarbons that’s used to dilute heavy tar sands so it can be transported, back to Alberta.

In December, a Canadian review panel recommended that the Northern Gateway pipeline project be given the go-ahead by the federal government as long as 209 conditions are met (none of which address climate change or carbon pollution). The project has run into serious opposition, however, with the country’s First Nations tribes growing particularly vocal. One spokesman recently vowed that the groups will maintain a “wall of opposition” against the project. About 130 First Nations have signed on to the Save the Fraser declaration, which aims to ban all tar sands pipelines from First Nations territory and from the ocean migration routes of the Fraser River salmon. The Canadian federal cabinet is expected to make its final decision on Northern Gateway by July.

Trans Mountain Expansion Project -- Map at Site

Kinder Morgan filed a proposal for an expansion of its Trans Mountain Pipeline system in December 2013, seeking to build another pipeline to carry Canadian tar sands from Edmonton, Alberta to the West Coast of Canada, near Vancouver. If approved, the pipeline would increase the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline system from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.

Like the Northern Gateway, the pipeline has sparked substantial opposition in Canada, especially on the West Coast. The city of Vancouver has filed for intervenor status against the pipeline, which would allow it to make submissions to Canada’s National Energy Board and take an active role in the hearings on the pipeline. Native tribes in Washington and British Columbia have also announced their intent to oppose the Trans Mountain project as intervenors, citing their worries about the major environmental impacts the pipeline would have, especially the uptick of oil tankers in their tribal waters.

Eastern Gulf Crude Access -- Map at Site

If approved, the Eastern Gulf Crude Access pipeline would carry oil from the Bakken region and Alberta’s tar sands from Patoka, Illinois about 770 miles to Boyce, Louisiana. Like many other pipeline projects, the Eastern Gulf Crude Access is part construction, part restructuring — the proposal would re-purpose 574 miles of existing natural gas pipeline to carry oil, and construct 40 miles of new pipeline at the beginning of the line’s route, from Patoka to Johnsonville, Illinois.

The companies in charge of the project — Enbridge and Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, Texas — originally wanted it to go to St. James, Louisiana, but didn’t gain enough customer support to build that leg of the pipeline.

Sandpiper Pipeline - Map at Site

Enbridge’s Sandpiper pipeline would carry Bakken crude oil about 610 miles from Tioga, North Dakota to Superior, Wisconsin. North Dakota officials have heralded the pipeline, which is the largest in development in the state.

“This is going to add that additional pipeline capacity that we need going forward,” Justin Kringstad of North Dakota Pipeline Authority told KUMV-TV. “As we continue to rise our production levels we need that adequate means of transportation to move that crude to markets around the U.S.”

But Sandpiper still needs state and federal approval, and the pipeline has drawn opposition from some students and native tribes. Farmers and property owners along the pipeline route have also voiced their concerns with the pipeline.

“We limed and put manure on that this spring, and then we find out in July that’s exactly where they want to put a pipeline,” organic farmer Janaki Fisher-Merritt told MPR News in October. “If they go through there it just increases our risk too much, we won’t grow vegetables on it.”

If approved, construction on the pipeline is slated to start in December 2014, and officials hope the pipeline is in service by 2016.

Flanagan South

FlanaganSouth - Map at Site

Flanagan South, an Enbridge project, is already in the works, and once constructed will carry tar sands and Bakken crude 589 miles from Flanagan, Illinois to Cushing, Oklahoma. The pipeline, which workers began constructing last fall, will run alongside the existing Spearhead Pipeline, which carries about 173,000 barrels of Canadian oil each day. Flanagan’s initial capacity will be 600,000 barrels of oil from Canada, North Dakota and Montana per day — by comparison, Keystone XL will be 1,179 miles in its entirety and have a capacity of 830,000 barrels per day.

The pipeline was approved by the Army Corps of Engineers using a permit called NWP 12, a tactic that has resulted in lawsuits from the Sierra Club, who say it allows the Corps to “piecemeal” the pipeline project into separate water crossings, making it easier to approve. Doug Hayes, staff attorney for the Sierra Club, said he thinks the NWP 12 process doesn’t provide citizens along the pipeline route adequate opportunity to voice their opinions on the pipeline, resulting in a dearth of public knowledge about Flanagan South.

“When we were talking to people along the pipeline route, many of them were surprised and shocked to learn that there was this major tar sands pipeline being approved without any public involvement whatsoever in their backyards,” Hayes said. “So no, there was not adequate public awareness of this. There still isn’t.”

Line 3 Replacement - Map at Site

Enbridge plans to replace a major pipeline running from Edmonton, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, an update that would nearly double the size of the existing pipeline. The existing pipeline has ruptured multiple times over its 46-year lifespan, and the update would replace the aging pipes with new steel and coating. Enbridge says it can complete the update without getting a State Department permit, even though the project crosses a national boundary, but environmentalists have taken issue with that claim.

“Like with their proposed Alberta Clipper pipeline expansion, Enbridge will need a new presidential permit for the project,” Sierra Club staff attorney Doug Hayes said in a statement. “And the same climate test that the president set for the Keystone XL pipeline will apply.”

The project is the largest in Enbridge’s history and replacing the 1,031 miles of pipeline is projected to cost the company $7 billion.

By: Katie Valentine | Think Progress |

Andrew Breiner contributed the ThinkProgress graphics for this piece.

Past Member (0)
Thursday March 20, 2014, 11:24 am
It would appear that we are very nearly doomed. Since Big Oil is determined to squeeze the planet for every last drop of natural gas and oil, no matter how filthy, then we'd better hope someone develops technology to remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere because if all the fossil fuels contained in the earth are developed and consumed...there is no way this planet will survive without substantial technological innovation. And, if our governments want to maintain control, then they'd better fund research heavily and fast because in ten years, when crop failures are common, even in the US, people will wake up here like they have all around the planet and there will be an uprising. Everyone needs to think about the future because it's coming sooner than most people commonly think.

JL A (281)
Thursday March 20, 2014, 5:40 pm
And how many barrels have leaked in the past year from what they already have?

Shirley S (187)
Thursday March 20, 2014, 8:59 pm
Secret service strikes again!!

Terry King (113)
Thursday March 20, 2014, 9:08 pm
The country seems to be obsessed with transporting Canadian oil to China!

Past Member (0)
Friday March 21, 2014, 4:35 am
Noted, ta.

Past Member (0)
Friday March 21, 2014, 5:07 am
The human are committing suicide

Friday March 21, 2014, 5:38 am
Such a blatant lack of integrity. Thanks Kit for sharing.

Panchali Yapa (26)
Friday March 21, 2014, 8:00 am
Thank you

Past Member (0)
Friday March 21, 2014, 8:18 am
A key difference between the projects is that Keystone needs presidential approval because it crosses the U.S.-Canada border.

Kit B (276)
Friday March 21, 2014, 9:46 am

Study the oil pipelines that do exist (world wide) and you will see they all have serious leakage, and most have leaked enough to seep so thoroughly in the ground soil that the leaks become "spills". There is nothing safe about a pipeline even with something as innocuous water will leak in a pipeline, which means wasted water.

Sheila D (194)
Friday March 21, 2014, 11:31 am
From the West Central StarTribune, Friday, March 7, 2014...David Shafer,

"By rail or pipeline, oil safety fight is on.

"Enbridge Energy says replacing its 46-year-old crude oil pipeline across Minnesota will boost safety. But opponents don't see it that way.

"A Minnesota crude oil pipeline with an elevated risk of rupturing finally may get replaced - much to the relief of state officials who for years have warned about its threat to people and the environment.

"Enbridge Energy announced this week that it would spend $2.6 billion to replace the US-portion of the line by 2017. The 1968-era pipeline carries oil from Canada through northen Minnesota to Superior, Wis.

"After a 2002 rupture in Cohasset, Minn, federal investigators concluded that improper shipping of the original pipe left tiny cracks that can turn into big ones. To reduce risk, the pipeline known as "Line 3" operates at roughly half its maximum capacity.

"We are welcoming the retirement," says Steve Lee, manager of emergency resopnse for the state Pollution Control Agency, which once warned of potentially "frightening" consquences if the line failed near places like the Mississippi River.

"Two environmental groups have immediately taken stands against the replacement project. MN350,a climate advocacy group, and the Sierra Club said they will fight the line 3 project because it would shift to carrying the same Canadian tar sands oil as the Controversial Keystone XL pipeline project through western states.

"We see the line as another tar sands line," said Tom McSteen, lead convener for MN350, which is loosely affiliated with the activists that have held anti-Keystone protests at the White House. "We are really opposing the extraction of tar sands oil whether shipped by pipeline or oil train."

"Both groups also oppose the expansion of Enbridge's Alberta Clipper pipeline which carries crude oil through Minnesota from Edmonton along the same corridor as Line 3.

"In announcing the Line 3 replacement, Calgary-based Enbridge said it had become expensive to maintain, and that a new line could safely operate at 760,000 barrels per day. The existing line was designed for that capacity, but operates at roughly 400,000 barrels perday. It now carries light crude, but the new line would be dedicated to heavy crude to meet shipper demand from the oil sands region of northern Alberta, said Lorraine Little, an Enbridge spokeswoman.

"The goal of this project is to replace old steel with new steel and technology, and in the process that creates a newer, safer pipeline," Little said in an interview Thursday.

"Line 3 is an important part of Enbridge's oil-carrying corridor through the state, which includes five other pipelines.

" It provdes a vital service that we all rely on," Little said. "Everyone uses fossil fuels every day, whether they are driving a car or riding a bus. There are so many ways that petroleum-based products interact with our lives."

"Yet the oil corridor through northern Minnesota, which now carries about 14 percent of U.S. needs, is a worry to some activists.

"We are converting Minnesota from the Father of Waters state to the father of oil rivers state," said Willlis Mattison, a retired state pollution control officer who is advising a newly formed group called Friends of the Headwaters. It formed after Enbridge proposed building the Sandpiper pipeline to carry North Dakota oil across the state, on a proposed new route near Park Rapids and Itasca State Park.

"Mattison said the group, which has quickly grown to 600 members, was stunned that Enbridge didn't disclose its Line 3 plans earlier, in tandem with its Sandpiper project now under state regulatory review.

"Paul Stolen, a retired state official who formerly reviewed pipeline projects for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said regulatiors need to study the effects of having more, larger pipeline routes in the same corridor. He said many pipeline routes, like the Line 3 corridor, were picked in the era when "nobody paid any attention to the environment." Yet state policy favors using those existing corridors for the new lines, he said.

"For the Sandpiper line, Enbridge is proposing a new, more southerly path between Clearbrook, Minn, and Superior. Little said the company may consider that route for a new line 3, which takes a northerly route. Although the Line 3 project will face state regulatory review, it is unclear whether it would be as extensiive as that for a new line.

"Line 3 has suffered major ruptures, including a July 4, 2002, release of about 6,000 barrels of crude oil in a marsh near Cohasset. Much of the oil stayed in place, and a controlled burn sent smoke a mile high.

"An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board trace the rupture to a pipe seam, the result of a "pre-existing fatigue crack" that probably developed from improper handling during shipment in the 1960s. Enbridge said it stepped up its monitoring and repair program after the accident. Replacing the line will save $1.1 billion in such costs through 2017, the company said."

Sheila D (194)
Friday March 21, 2014, 11:39 am
Thought you'd like to read about MN Enbridge pipelines. I find it interesting that the process will check more closely a new pipeline proposal that it would the replacement of an old pipeline. Also noted the statement regarding the pipeline now carries 14% of US oil needs...not mentioned, that the pipeline oil is shipped out, not staying in the US.

Also included with this article was another very telling story about the railroad cars used to transport the oil...even knowing the cars are unsafe, railroads aren't taking the unsafe cars off the rails.

Angelika R (143)
Friday March 21, 2014, 5:01 pm
Thx, simply SICKENING ! They have lied, are lieing and will continue to lie. And Ros is very correct, just today it was mentioned again in light of expected retaliation sanctions from Russia, that the EU is intensely looking forward to alternative energy suppliers, well guess what that means. They also spoke of building more pipelines in Europe.
I truly hope that after a KXL decision, which ever way it will turn out (we all have our gut feeling the planet and we are not going to like it) the fight will NOT die in capitulation but arise stronger than ever.

Katie & Bill D (107)
Friday March 21, 2014, 10:16 pm
Sneaky sneaky!! Thank you Kit

. (0)
Saturday March 22, 2014, 10:43 am
The sad part is that with the Enbridge lines; many use the same diameter pipes and drag resistant agents found at Kalamazoo. Pumping heavy Tar Sands crude through these types of pipes opens up the potential to disasters such as found at Kalamazoo or Arkansas. The problem with Line 9 is that a spill could damage the aquifer that provides drinking water for many people in S. Ontario and those on the American side. Profit and the energy purveyors like a stiff prick has no conscience.

Kit B (276)
Saturday March 22, 2014, 11:36 am

Thanks GGma - interesting article. Great analogy, Micheal, though I'm laughing so much I can barely type.

Angelika R (143)
Saturday March 22, 2014, 12:37 pm
Yep, very well said Michael!

Lois Jordan (63)
Sunday March 23, 2014, 5:26 pm
Thanks so much for posting, Kit. Yes, it seems like the old magician's trick to focus on KXL and ignore the other terrible news. Very disturbing! I'm not giving up hope on my visions of a beautiful country filled with renewable green energy and jobs in that sector. Even though it seems like Big Oil is literally swallowing up our country and others, we must all do what we can to stop it, and continue to share this info.

Grace Adams (43)
Tuesday April 14, 2015, 6:33 am
What the world needs is a sustainable substitute for petroleum from which all too big to fail fossil fuel firms can profit even more handsomely than they do now from petroleum. Actually we do have technology to capture CO2 from ambient air, made by Global Thermostat. At best, even after going through both pilot plant and infant industry stages, it will cost quite a bit more than it would cost to buy coal as mineral rights at prices somewhat higher than what coal firms get now for coal extracted and ready to ship fob. But petroleum products sell for a lot more than coal does. It is possible that government (no way for private for profit firms to profit and way too big a project for non-profits even working together to tackle) might be able capture CO2 with Global Thermostat and compress and use as fracking/hydraulic/heat-transfer fluid in enhanced geothermal systems for about the same price consumers would have to pay for the petroleum products from burning of which the CO2 was emitted.

Past Member (0)
Saturday May 23, 2015, 8:37 am
Noted with disgust. Thank you Kit.
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