By Andy Rowell
And so the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline goes on.
TransCanada plans to refile its application with the U.S. government in the next few weeks, according to Alex Pourbaix, the company’s president of oil and pipelines.
The new alternative pipeline route will avoid the ecologically sensitive Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer, a crucial water source for eight states—which was one of the reasons that the Obama administration blocked the pipeline earlier this year.
“I’ve committed that TransCanada will reroute around the Sand Hills,” Pourbaix said at an energy conference on March 6.
The new plan will include a 100-mile to 110-mile reroute around the Sandhills, with only 20 miles of new pipeline.
“If you take a look and imagine a jog around the Sandhills, you’re probably going to add about 20 miles of pipe, and you will probably have to reroute somewhere in the range of 100 to 120 miles,” he said. “We’re not talking about moving the pipe 500 miles to the left or to the right.”
And once this “mild jog” is complete, the company believes that the last of the obstacles will be overcome “We do not believe that, beyond the Nebraska issue, there are any other issues that still need to be investigated that have not been fully exhausted in the original process,” said Pourbaix. “He [President Obama] made it very clear that it was not being denied on the merits. And he encouraged us to reapply.”
TransCanada also plans to start construction on the pipeline’s southern part from Cushing, Oklahoma to Texas by late spring or early summer, this year. Crucially, because this part does not cross the Canadian border it does not need Presidential approval. In contrast, the southern section will only need standard federal permits which TransCanada believes will be ready shortly.
“By building the southern route right now, it will make it a lot simpler and smaller construction,” Pourbaix said. He added that that the southern pipeline would be ready by next year.
For TransCanada it is a race against time. It needs to get the pipeline built by about 2015, to try and pre-empt the Northern Gateway pipeline from getting approved. By starting on the southern section it will shorten the two-year construction timeline for the longer pipeline. And TransCanada is still optimistic it will make that deadline.
Others agree that this deadline should be met. Bill Klesse, chief executive officer of Valero Energy Corp, America’s largest independent refiner and a key customer for the controversial pipeline, argues the whole pipeline will be approved early next year, no matter what happens in November’s election.
And Klesse then argues that these new supplies of tar sands will allow Gulf Coast refineries to expand exports of gasoline and diesel.
“There are significant changes that are going to occur over the next few years,” Mr. Klesse said. “Export markets are growing and they are a huge opportunity for the refining industry, not just Valero but for the entire industry.”
Klesse has just confirmed what many in the oil industry continue to deny. And that is what Oil Change has always said—that the Keystone XL is an export pipeline.
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Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.
By Bill McKibben
To understand the planetary importance of this autumn's presidential election, check the calendar. Voting ends on November 3—and by a fluke of timing, on the morning of November 4 the United States is scheduled to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
President Trump announced that we would abrogate our Paris commitments during a Rose Garden speech in 2017. But under the terms of the accords, it takes three years to formalize the withdrawal. So on Election Day it won't be just Americans watching: The people of the world will see whether the country that has poured more carbon into the atmosphere than any other over the course of history will become the only country that refuses to cooperate in the one international effort to do something about the climate crisis.