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TransCanada Asks State Department to 'Pause' Review on Keystone XL Pipeline

Energy

In a letter to Sec. John Kerry yesterday, Canadian oil company TransCanada asked the State Department to "pause" its review of the Presidential Permit application for the Keystone XL pipeline.

“We are asking State to pause its review of Keystone XL based on the fact that we have applied to the Nebraska Public Service Commission for approval of its preferred route in the state,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “I note that when the status of the Nebraska pipeline route was challenged last year, the State Department found it appropriate to suspend its review until that dispute was resolved. We feel under the current circumstances a similar suspension would be appropriate.”

In the letter, TransCanada writes:

In order to allow time for certainty regarding the Nebraska route, TransCanada requests that the State Department pause in its review of the Presidential Permit application for Keystone XL. This will allow a decision on the permit to be made later based on certainty with respect to the route of the pipeline.

For nearly seven years, tens of thousands of people have been demanding that President Obama reject the Keystone XL, a proposed tar sands pipeline connecting Alberta, Canada with Gulf Coast refineries that would carry 800,000 barrels per day across the breadbasket of America to be refined, exported and burned.

In response to TransCanada's announcement, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club said, "TransCanada sees the writing on the wall, and is trying to run out the clock in hopes that the next president will not weigh climate science in his or her decision about the dirty Keystone XL tar sands pipeline."

"Today, tomorrow or next year, the answer will be the same: Keystone XL is a bad deal for America, our climate and our economy," said NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer. "Secretary Kerry should reject TransCanada’s request for delay, and President Obama should immediately reject the Keystone XL pipeline once and for all."

The fight against Keystone XL has seen an unprecedented wave of grassroots actions in every state in the U.S. This map from 350.org shows more than 750 #NoKXL actions, big and small, that have taken place to stop the pipeline since 2011. They range from impromptu events when President Obama was in town, to days of action with hundreds of participants, to tens of thousands of people gathering in Washington, DC.

"The Keystone XL pipeline has been defeated by the movement with an assist from the markets," said Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International.

Lindsey Allen, executive director of Rainforest Action Network agrees. "Sustained grassroots opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has put TransCanada on the run. It is urgently important that President Obama reject Keystone XL without further delay. KXL isn’t about TransCanada. It’s about the president’s climate legacy."

As TckTckTck puts it:

Construction of the controversial pipeline became less and less likely this year following the Obama administration’s veto of a bill that demanded the president approve the project.

Meanwhile with evidence showing the pipeline would produce just 35 permanent jobs in the U.S. while putting a large swath of the country at risk of a catastrophic oil spill and that over reliance on the volatile tar sands market fueled an economic recession in Canada, any dubious economic claims for pushing the project through have proven to be false.

In Canada, projects connected to the tar sands lost political momentum first when Alberta voted out their provincial conservative government after 44 years of rule, and again when Canada elected Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister to replace climate laggard Stephen Harper.

Bill McKibben says this latest tactic by TransCanada is “one of the great victories for this movement in decades.”

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"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

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At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.