Keystone XL Crude Pipeline's Revised Route Environmentally Cleared After New Assessment

The U.S. State Department issued an environmental assessment on Friday concluding that the revised route for the Keystone XL crude pipeline would not harm water or wildlife, clearing a hurdle for the project that has been pending for a decade.

A top concern of environmentalist was whether a crude oil spill along the revised route would impact groundwater, however the nearly 340-page draft review said otherwise.

“Prompt cleanup response would likely be capable of remediating the contaminated soils before the hazardous release reaches groundwater depth,” the review said.

A federal judge in Montana ordered the State Department to conduct the review last month. The new review needed to take into account new information relevant to a permit it issued for the pipeline last year.

The review added that implementation of the revised route would have “no significant direct, indirect or cumulative effects on the quality of the natural or human environments.”

Environmentalists, tribal groups, and ranchers were all in opposition to the $8 billion, 1,180 miles (1,900 km), pipeline that would carry heavy crude from Canada’s oil sands in Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska. Crude would be sent from there to refineries and potentially for export.

TransCanada Corp plans to start construction in 2019, spokesman Matthew John said.

The company’s Chief Executive, Russ Girling, said last month that it could make a final investment decision on the project late this year or in early 2019, pending some regulatory approvals and court challenges.

Despite the new review, environmentalists voiced their outrage.

“We’ve held off construction of this pipeline for 10 years, and regardless of this administration’s attempts to force this dirty tar sands pipeline on the American people, that fight will continue until Keystone XL is stopped once and for all,” said Kelly Martin, the Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign director for Sierra Club.


Ottawa Puts 22 Week Limit for Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion’s Future

Ottawa has given pipeline regulators 22 weeks to review the Trans Mountain expansion project on Friday morning after National Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said the National Energy Board will have 22 weeks to hear from Canadians.

Sohi announced the details of the government’s next steps during a news conference, calling it a “very important step forward.”

Sohi also emphasized that the project is an investment in Canada’s future, but clarified that “it must move forward in the right way.”

Last month, the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the approval of the pipeline project that would nearly triple the flow of oil from Alberta’s oilsands to the West Coast.

The court said that Canada’s efforts fell short in both consulting with indigenous people, as well as giving the environmental impact of increased tanker traffic off the coast of British Columbia more attention.

Sohi said the review will consider the impact of increased tanker traffic on the resident killer whale population.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the government is committed to building the pipeline the "right way" to satisfy the court's demands.


Canada's Federal Government to Help Fund Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week said he has told his finance minister to talk with Kinder Morgan and remove the uncertainty over the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project that has been facing ongoing legal challenges. 

The pipeline project has been suspended until Kinder Morgan receives reassurance from Ottawa that the project will be able to go forward.

Canada's federal government approved the project in 2016, but the project has since been strongly opposed by British Columbia's New Democrat government.

Trudeau wants to see the major pipeline expansion completed as the country needs more infrastructure to move its growing oil sands production. The project would nearly triple the flow of oil from Canada's oil sands to the Pacific Coast.

However, the British Columbia government has been fighting the project in courts in efforts to stop the inevitable increase of the number of oil tankers traveling the waters between Canada and Washington state.

Amid the legal challenges against the pipeline expansion, Trudeau also announced last week that legislation is coming that will "reassert and reinforce" the federal government's power to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and ensure it moves forward.


Trudeau Urges Canada to Transition from Oil Sands; Comment Causes Controversy

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sparked controversy when he said the country must start phasing out the oil sands and wane from its dependence on fossil fuels.

At a town-hall meeting in Ontario on Friday, Trudeau responded to questions about his government's approval of pipelines and his commitment to the environment by saying the country needs to manage its eventual transition from the oil sands.

Many Alberta politicians were outraged by Trudeau's comment, saying the oil and gas industry provides thousands of jobs and represents trillions of dollars of future wealth for Canadian families.

The province of Alberta has the third-largest oil reserves in the world, which are "not going anywhere soon," said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. She told CBC Radio's The House that Trudeau's comments come shortly after his approval of two pipelines that are going to help move product from the oil sands to market.

"Oil and gas will help power the global economy for generations to come," said Notley in a video response posted on Twitter.

CBC News

Kinder Morgan Says Oil Flow of Pipeline Not Interrupted after Protest Attack

Despite an activist groups’ announcement that it succeeded in shutting the flow of five oil pipelines for most of the day Tuesday, Kinder Morgan responded to the incident that the flow of its Trans Mountain pipeline was not interrupted, and no damage was done to the line.

A group called Climate Direct Action simultaneously broke into valve stations in four different states on Tuesday in attempt to stop oil flow from the Alberta oilsands, an act the group called “a remarkable accomplishment” toward tackling the climate crisis.

One of the pipelines targeted was Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.

Although the group’s dangerous stunt did not affect the flow of Kinder Morgan’s line, the company announced it is reviewing its security procedures and taking precautionary measures for potential future pipeline attacks.

President of Kinder Morgan Ian Anderson stated that oil companies work together to maintain security and safety of their pipelines and that his company is already planning security measures for its proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in the event that it is given the green light to begin construction.

Other pipeline companies were targeted in the protest, including Spectra Energy, Enbridge, and TransCanada. The companies responded to the attacks by warning that tampering with oil pipelines could have unintended and seriously dangerous environmental consequences.

CBC News

Analysts Estimate Lost Oil Sands Production from Fort McMurray Wildfire to Surpass 30 Million Barrels

2016 Fort McMurray wildfire on May 1. By Jason Woodhead [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The lost oil sands production from the Fort McMurray wildfire could surpass 30 million barrels and cost the industry near $1.4 billion, Calgary-based analysts report.

The wildfire that broke out on May 1 forced some of the largest oil sands producers to shut down or halt operations while 80,000 Fort McMurray residents evacuated the area to escape the blaze. It has burned almost 5,900 square kilometers and, although no longer growing, is not yet completely under control by officials.

Although damage to the oil sands projects was minimal, restarting the operations is taking longer than anticipated. Analysts report there being pipeline clogging issues on some of the projects, possibly caused by the cooling and hardening of bitumen during the shutdown, which is making production flow in the pipeline difficult.

Analysts who estimate the industry’s production loss near $1.4 billion expect the number to grow.

Assuming no more shutdowns or evacuations occur from the ongoing fires, operations are expected to be back to normal by the end of July.

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