Stand indivisible with those in its path. Say ‘NO’ to the Keystone XL pipeline! Deadline tonight 11:59 pm EST.

47 mins read
"Stop Keystone XL" by chesapeakeclimate. (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Quote by Chase Iron Eyes, lead counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project and public relations director for Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runne

Mon 11/18: Write a comment. “NO” to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. “Yes” to the “No Action Alternative”.

In 2017, President Donald Trump, claiming job creation and increased national security, reversed yet another Obama-era action, and granted TC Energy, (the foreign energy company formerly known as TransCanada), a  presidential permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s the latest phase of tar sands pipelines that have literally split America in half, from the strip-mined tar sand fields in Canada, all the way to Texas and the largest refinery in the US, now completely owned by the Saudis.

TC Energy is now trying to take land away from Americans by eminent domain, and run their lines through Native American lands without consent. Their pipeline speeding Canada’s toxic sludge to Texas will raise oil prices, befoul our air, water and land and continue to cause environmental disasters. Like earthquakes in California, it’s not a matter of “will they occur?”, but when and where.

Tell them you support the “No Action Alternative”, meaning the Keystone XL Project would not be constructed or operated. (2019 SEIS p.S-12)

  • Comments here.
  • Read federal proposal here.
  • Links to resources here:
    • Permit applications,
    • Record of Decision and National Interest Determination
    • Presidential Permits for Keystone XL
    • Draft Environmental Impact Assessments,
    • Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)
  • Read other comments for inspiration here. Remember, the government will remove identical copies, so channel all your creative writing classes from middle school.

Deeper Dive

Serving suggestion: Skim through. Find a section that particulary speaks to you and concentrate your comment on that. Don’t get overwhelmed. Get resistant. Write something – it doesn’t have to be long. Your comment, along with others, will help environmental lawyers show judges that this issue is important to the American people.

Where we are right now,  according to our government: 

  • TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. (Keystone) proposes to construct, connect, operate and maintain a pipeline system and ancillary facilities (e.g., access roads, pump stations and construction camps) that would transport Canadian heavy crude oil from  Canada, and Bakken crude oil from an on-ramp in Montana, to Steele City, Nebraska (referred to as the Keystone XL Project, or Project). The proposed pipeline would connect to the existing Keystone Cushing Extension pipeline, which extends from Steele City, Nebraska, to Cushing, Oklahoma. In total, the proposed Project would consist of approximately 1,209 miles of new, 36-inch-diameter pipeline, with approximately 327 miles of pipeline in Canada and approximately 882 miles in the United States (U.S.).
  • (from Wikipedia) Three phases of the project are in operation:
    Phase 1 – The Keystone Pipeline (2,147 miles), completed in 2010, delivers oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to the junction at Steele City, Nebraska, and on to Wood River Refinery in Roxana, Illinois, and Patoka Oil Terminal Hub north of Patoka, Illinois
  • Phase II – The Keystone-Cushing extension, (291 miles) completed in 2011 running  from Steele City to a tank farm in Cushing, Oklahoma. These two phases deliver up to 590,000 barrels/day.
  • Phase III – The Gulf Coast Extension, (487 miles) completed in 2014 delivers up to 700,000 barrels per day from Cushing to refineries at Port Arthur, Texas, lateral pipeline to refineries at Houston, Texas and a terminal was completed mid-2016, going online the following year.
  • Phase IV: The proposed 1,209 mile long, 36″ diameter, Keystone XL pipeline, is planned to transport 830,000 barrel per day from Alberta to the Gulf Coast Area. Pipeline segments at Cushing, Oklahoma, a major crude oil marketing/refining and pipeline hub, are designed to allow American crude to enter the pipeline as well. It croses the border near Morgan, Montana, and would include pipeline generally within a 110-foot-wide temporary construction right-of-way (ROW) and a 50-foot-wide permanent ROW in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.
  • On November 8, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana identified four deficiencies in the 2014 Keystone XL Final SEIS:
    • the effects of current oil prices,
    • cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions,
    • cultural resources and
    • accidental release modeling.
  • The 2019 SEIS supplements the 2014 Keystone XL Final SEIS to address perceived deficiencies and consider the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts related to changes in the Project since 2014.
  • The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) will decide whether to approve, approve with modification or deny issuance of a ROW grant and Temporary Use Permit to Keystone for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, and if approved, under what terms and conditions.

Who profits? 

  • Right out of the gate: In his very first week of office, Trump signed a presidential memorandum advancing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, using the “create jobs” myth as cover. (See next section) On Jan. 24th, Trump signed two executive orders calling for the approval of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, owned by Energy Transfer Partners and TransCanada, respectively. He also signed an order calling for expedited environmental reviews of domestic infrastructure projects, such as pipelines.
  • Signing for dollars: Trump stated, both as a candidate and as a new president, that he wanted “a piece of the profits.” Although his hint of grabbing profits from private companies, either for the country or for himself, is illegal if taken literally, the promise of a sharpie signature on presidential permits has already paid off just as well. Harold Hamm, founder and CEO of Continental Resources, was a major donor to his campaign, and his corporation will profit from using both pipelines to transport his fracked oil . Kelcy Warren, chief executive of Energy Transfer Partners, gave $103,000 to elect Trump and handed over a further $66,800 to the Republican National Committee since the property developer secured the GOP’s presidential nomination. Before the election, Trump’s financial disclosure forms showed that in 2015 he had between $500,000 and $1m invested in  Energy Transfer Partners, with a further $500,000 to $1m holding in Phillips 66, which will have a 25% stake in the Dakota Access project once completed.
  • Better than running a charity. And legal!: And these two oligarchs weren’t the only ones to express their thanks in a tangible way for Trump’s hardcore support of pipelines and fossil fuels in general. Jack Gerard, API‘s President and CEO, in a press release. “We are pleased to see the new direction being taken by this administration to recognize the importance of our nation’s energy infrastructure by restoring the rule of law in the permitting process that’s critical to pipelines and other infrastructure projects. Critical energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipelines will help deliver energy to American consumers and businesses safely and efficiently.

“We need this pipeline to provide jobs” is a GOP myth.

  • About (2) McDonald’s worth of employees: Industry predictions in 2010 claimed that the project would be of utmost positivity to the economy, by “putting 20,000 US workers to work and spending $7 billion, thus stimulating the US economy.” However, the TransCanada company (now TC Energy) told the U.S. State Department that constructing the pipeline would only create 2,000 jobs, (a job creation potential on par with building a shopping mall) with only 35 – 50 permanent jobs after it is built. Conversely,  the Department of Energy reported in 2017 that  the economy created 230,000 new clean energy and efficiency jobs, accounting for 10% of the nation’s job growth. Ok, so not so many construction jobs.
  • What about materials, like steel? Nope. Depite Trump’s Jan. 24 memo requiring new and retrofitted pipelines to use American steel and speeches promising the same, then-Press Secretary Sarah Sanders stated “The way that executive order is written … it’s specific to new pipelines or those that are being repaired. And since this one is already currently under construction, the steel is already literally sitting there, it would be hard to go back. But I know that everything moving forward would fall under that executive order.”

So is the claim that a pipeline will take tar sand off the rails.

(nrdc“The choice between a tar sands pipeline and unregulated crude by rail has always been a false one. Despite what many of Keystone XL’s proponents have claimed, tar sands is not a significant part of the crude by rail boom—it’s difficult and expensive to move thick, heavy tar sands by rail and the companies that first tried to make it work are either struggling or bankrupt. And Keystone XL’s rejection didn’t cause more crude to go on the rails—in fact, according to the Energy Information Administration, the relatively small shipments of Canadian crude by rail to the Gulf Coast have declined since Keystone XL was rejected (by the Obama administration). Even the tar sands industry tacitly admits that rail is not a viable expansion plan – which is why it companies cancelled expansion projects and some even pulled out of the tar sands after Keystone XL’s rejection during the Obama administration rather than shift wholesale to rail.”

Build it and it will leak.

They were a tad optimistic: TC Energy initially estimated that the Keystone Pipeline would leak about 50 barrels every 7–11 years or 11 significant spills (more than 50 barrels of crude oil) over 50 years. They were wrong. Their fourth and latest large spill in 9 years, all of much larger than predicted, has alarmed indigenous peoples, affected residents, and environmental activists, who continue to protest the approved Keystone XL expansion, scheduled to begin construction in 2020.

The spill confirms what we have been warning people about over the last 10 years,” said Jeanne Crumly, who owns a cattle ranch along Keystone XL’s approved path and fears a spill could contaminate her land and harm her cows.

On Oct 31st, 9000 barrels, approximately 383,000 gallons, of crude oil spilled into a North Dakota wetland in the latest leak from the Keystone Pipeline.

It was Keystone’s second big spill in two years. In November of 2017, at least 4,700 barrels spilled in South Dakota. While the pipeline was shut off within 15 minutes of this incident, which reportedly took place away from surface water, Ruth Hopkins, a Lakota writer and activist noted the location was dangerously close to an aquifer on which the Lake Traverse Reservation depends.

Many smaller spills have plagued the pipeline since it opened in 2010 to carry oil from Alberta to Texas, including 400 barrel leaks in North Dakota in 2011 and South Dakota in 2016. These accidents are not rare occurances. Between 2006 and the middle of 2015, there were nearly 3,800 pipeline blowouts or other incidents serious enough to require reporting to the U.S. Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. And they spilled a cumulative 37.5 million gallons of oil and other hazardous liquids, 23 million gallons of which were never recovered.

Tar sand destroys pipes from the inside out.

  • Not what it appears: TransCanada promises 57 security features—both in safety checks and the mechanics of the system —to ensure the safe passage of oil. Moreover, by committing over $900 million dollars per year for safety protocols and maintenance, TransCanada put the official spill estimate at 0.00013 spills per year per mile, with only 11 total per 50 year lifetime. They anticipate most leaks to be small and quickly visible by aerial detection and observation protocols carried out every two weeks.
  • Overstating security measures: Environmental watchdogs contend that only 12 of the 57 security feature are different than the basic minimum required by the Department of Transportation. Anthony Swift, the NRDC energy analyst responsible for the point-by-point study, states that most of the dozen improvements range from minor to substantive, including burying the pipeline six to 12 inches deeper than required; assuring that the pipeline is puncture-resistant under pressure; lengthening the time devoted to pressure tests; validating data provided by the leak detection system; bumping up the number of shutdown valves from 104 to 106; providing the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) with construction plans, and agreeing to notify PHMSA when spills are reported to the federal government’s National Response Center.
  • Untested: However, none of the 12 address the real issue – the lack of studies specifically addressing the wear and tear dilbit (tar sand and solvent) has on steel pipes. The head of PHMSA, Cynthia Quarterman, testified at a June congressional hearing that her agency has not studied the risks of oil sands pipelines. A 2015 report from Harvard University discusses several factors that make transporting tar sand extraction particularly problematic for present pipeline technology. Dilbit is much more viscous than conventional oil, it must be pressurized up to 1440 psi (compared to 600 psi for conventional oil—and 30 psi for car tires) and heated to 158°F to pass through the pipes over such a long distance. Moreover, unprocessed dilbit still contains abrasive particles, is around fifteen times more acidic, and contains five to ten more times sulfur than conventional oil, increasing the probability of a leak or failure of the pipe system that could go unnoticed for weeks. Most of the planned pipe system would be placed ten feet underground traversing remote areas of the Midwest, while other sections would cross important above-ground water resources, including the Missouri, Yellowstone, and Platte Rivers .
  • This guy is a lot closer: John Stansbury, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, believes that leakage statistics from TC Energy are severely understated. By compiling historical data, he expects the spill count to hover around 91 spills per 50 year lifetime, or 0.0019 spills per year per mile, nearly tenfold the TransCanada estimate. Moreover, he fears most of these spills will not be detected for long periods of time. Buried in the ground, spills and leaks in the pipeline may not manifest themselves for many weeks to be visible by an aerial inspection; it could take 90 days for leaked petroleum to reach the surface. In such a scenario, a moderately small leak would release 7.9 million gallons of dilbit into surrounding soil. Finally, Dr. Stansbury points out that the pipe wall is thinner than in previous pipeline projects and the substance carried is under higher pressure and more corrosive, increasing the likelihood of a leak relative to the previous estimation. His report is here. Here are some summarized points.
    • “While TransCanada estimates that the Keystone XL will have 11 significant spills (more than 50 barrels of crude oil) over 50 years, a more realistic assessment is 91 significant spills over the pipeline’s operational lifetime. TransCanada arbitrarily and improperly adjusted spill factors to produce an estimate of one major spill on the 1,673 mi of pipeline about every five years, but federal data on the actual incidence of spills on comparable pipelines indicate a more likely average of almost two major spills per year. (The existing Keystone I pipeline has had one major spill and 11 smaller spills in its first year of operation.)”
    • “Analysis of the time needed to shut down the pipeline shows that response to a leak at a river crossing could conservatively take more than ten times longer than the 11 minutes and 30 seconds that TransCanada assumes. (After the June 2010 spill of more than 800,000 US gallons of crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River, an Enbridge tar sands pipeline – a 30-inch pipe compared to the 36-inch Keystone XL – was not completely shut down for 12 hours.)”
    • “Realistic calculations yield worst-case spill estimates of more than 180,000 barrels (7,600,000 US gal) in the Nebraska Sandhills above the Ogallala Aquifer, more than 160,000 barrels (6,700,000 US gal) of crude oil at the Yellowstone River crossings, more than 140,000 barrels (5,900,000 US gal) at the Platte River crossing and more than 120,000 barrels (5,000,000 US gal) at the Missouri River crossing.”
    • “Contaminants from a release at the Missouri or Yellowstone River crossing would enter Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota where they would adversely affect drinking water intakes, aquatic wildlife, and recreation. Contaminants from a spill at the Platte River crossing would travel downstream unabated into the Missouri River for several hundred miles affecting drinking water intakes for hundreds of thousands of people (e.g., Lincoln, NE; Omaha, NE; Nebraska City, NE; St. Joseph, MO; Kansas City, MO) as well as aquatic habitats and recreational activities. In addition, other constituents from the spill would pose serious risks to humans and to aquatic species in the river.”
    • “The worst-case site for such a spill is in the Sandhills region of Nebraska. The Sandhills are ancient sand dunes that have been stabilized by grasses. Because of their very permeable geology, nearly 100 percent of the annual rainfall infiltrates to a very shallow aquifer, often less than 20 feet below the surface. This aquifer is the well-known Ogallala Aquifer that is one of the most productive and important aquifers in the world.”

The pipeline will run dangerously close to drinking water.


The pipeline would cross 1,073 rivers, lakes and streams, not to mention tens of thousands of wetlands in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska alone. These wetlands include the Prairie Pothole Region that makes up 10 percent of the waterfowl breeding habitat in the Continental United States. In many cases, it will run within a mile of more than 3,000 wells that provide drinking and irrigation water in those states.

TC Energy moved the pipeline route away from the Sandhills regions for it’s “Mainline Alternative Route” (MAR) in 2014 but it still crosses northern Holt County, where the soil is often sandy and permeable and the water table is high—the same characteristics that make the Sandhills so vulnerable to the impact of an oil spill. In some parts of the new corridor, the groundwater lies so close to the surface that the pipeline would run through the aquifer instead of over it. Hydrogeologist Jim Goeke, a professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said an oil spill in northern Holt County would contaminate the local groundwater, just as it would in southwestern Holt County. “You still have the same kind of problems, essentially, but you get around the Sandhills, and that was the purpose of the rerouting.

Tar sand spills are particularly hard to clean up… 

  • (From 2019 SEIS p. S-39) “Potential Effects of the Proposed Project from Accidental Releases“: Impacts under normal operations would be negligible to moderate. However, there is potential for environmental impacts from the proposed Project if an accidental or otherwise unexpected release of crude oil from the Keystone XL pipeline or facilities occur. These potential impacts are not likely to be significant because (1) the risk of an accidental release is unlikely; (2) Keystone would use continuous monitoring systems and automatic shutoff valves to quickly identify a leak or rupture and halt pumping immediately upon detection of pressure fluctuations; and (3) prompt implementation of Keystone’s response plan should mitigate effects.”
  • These two things are not the same: “There is big difference between conventional oil and the oil that we mine in Canada’s oil sands region” said Diane Orihel, an assistant professor in aquatic ecotoxicology at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The tar sands oil that runs through the pipeline from Canada “contains a heavy oil called bitumen,” she said. “This bitumen is like peanut butter. It’s hard to push peanut butter through a straw. Likewise, it’s hard to push bitumen through a pipeline.”
  • Bottom feeder: The industry cuts the sludge with a lighter gas, called a diluent, to flow it through the pipes, “somewhat like thinning a soup that’s too thick.” This toxic mix of crude and chemical solvent is called dilbit, short for diluted bitumen. The National Academy of Sciences found that tar sands spills pose new and greater risks to water bodies than historically transported oil, sinking instead of floating after exposure to weather and water—risks that our regulations and spill responders do not have the techniques to address.
  • History class – 2011: Michigan’s Kalamazoo River is still suffering,from a tar sands pipeline blowout that contaminated 38 miles of water in 2011 in what has become the most expensive onshore pipeline spill in U.S. history, with over a $1.2 billion dollars spent on cleanup.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency used heavy construction equipment to clean up the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill. Credit: EPA
  • History class – 2013: More than 200,000 gallons of tar sands crude polluted the tiny community of Mayflower, Arkansas,  when a pipeline blew out there in 2013. Residents began to complain of headaches, congestion, swollen eyes and burning lungs. “Oil spills like this one in Mayflower, Arkansas have real and lasting impacts on clean water for communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (2015).
Crude oil from the broken Pegasus pipeline spilled across yards and streets and into a creek in Mayflower.Credit: EPA

…and they can make you sick.

(From 2019 SEIS p. S-40) “Potential Effects of the Proposed Project from Accidental Releases“: The primary impacts related to air quality would have the potential for adverse effects to human health. Human health impacts arise from inhalation of the hydrocarbons (organic molecules made of hydrogen and carbon atoms) that make up crude oil. Health effects from exposure depend on the concentration of the chemical in the air and the duration of exposure.”


The Keystone XL pipeline threatens over 110,000 ranches and farms.

Where water supplies are threatened with pollution, so are ranches and farms. “On top of potential damage to crops, farmers and landowners alike from Texas to Montana have been threatened with land repossession by eminent domain—the law that says a private company can come in and take part of your property if it can prove to the government that doing so will benefit the general public. Julia Crawford, a Texan landowner, says: “As a landowner, property rights are key to my livelihood and family legacy. A foreign corporation pumping foreign oil simply does not qualify as a common carrier under Texas law. TransCanada does not get to write their own rules. I look forward to the Supreme Court hearing our case and our plea to protect the fundamental rights of property owners.”

(From 2019 SEIS p. S-40) “Potential Effects of the Proposed Project from Accidental Releases” – a release could limit or prohibit agricultural production until cleanup is complete and contaminated soils are remediated. In addition, toxicological impacts could include reduced vegetation for grazing. During remediation, contaminated vegetation and soils may require excavation and removal, and vehicles and equipment used to respond to and remediate a spill may increase the potential for soil disturbance (e.g., rutting, compaction and erosion). It is also possible that wind or water erosion could carry contaminated soils off the spill site and adversely affect vegetation used for grazing in areas beyond the spill location.”

The Keystone XL is in the United States, not necessarily for the United States.


The Keystone XL pipeline will transport crude oil from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska. The oil will then flow through another pipeline to Gulf Coast refineries, where it will be refined into petroleum products like gasoline. In 2012, refineries exported about 38% of their products. In 2017, they exported about 66% of their products. Although experts say it’s unlikely that none of the refined products will be sold in the U.S. once the pipeline is built, there are no requirements that it has to be sold here either.

Our country, our people, our environment and our wildlife, are inhabiting what is just a convenient pathway for a foreign oil producer to get its incredibly polluting product to a Saudi-owned refinery and others in the Gulf that now export the majority of their product internationally.

Gas prices will rise.

Weirdly enough, acting as a host for a  pipeline isn’t going to pay off for most Americans. According to an analysis by the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, “Keystone XL will divert Tar Sands oil now supplying Midwest refineries, so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and export markets. As a result, consumers in the Midwest could be paying 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel fuel. These additional costs (estimated to total $2 to $4 billion) will suppress other spending and will therefore cost jobs.”

Greenhouse gases and climate change

  • Sharing a dirty little secret: What has Canada, supposedly an international leader in fighting climate change, done to itself? Alberta has razed part of a boreal forest and is mining tar sand from the ground in immense open pits.
Large-scale tar sand processing plant and tailing ponds visible from space, surrounded by deforestation. Courtesy of Global Forest Watch.
  • The damage from tar sands is global. Because producing tar sands consumes so much energy, it also generates vast tons of the dangerous carbon pollution that is driving climate change. As a 2017 report by Oil Change International stated that emissions from planned tar sands expansion would exhaust 16% of the world’s total carbon budget for staying below 1.5°C. The State Department found that the emissions associated with the production, refining and combustion of the tar sands in Keystone XL would result 147 to 168 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide per year (equivalent to the emissions from as many of 35.5 million cars). Simply displacing conventional crude with dirtier tar sands, the project would result in up to 27.4 MMT CO2e of additional emissions.
  • The State Dept. is wrong: The State Department said in a 2014 assessment that the Keystone XL pipeline would have no additional impact on greenhouse gas emissions because the oil would be extracted from tar sands in Canada at the same rate, regardless of whether or not the pipeline was built. However, since it can’t be safely moved by rail, the industry instantly become commercially untenable after the pipeline was rejected by the Obama administration. Keystone XL would enable tar sands expansion, as Canada’s pipeline system has sufficient capacity for existing production and projects that are already in construction. Tar sands projects are some of the most expensive, dirtiest, most polluting, and longest lived oil projects on the planet—building more will lock in high carbon production for decades to come at a time when the world needs to be transitioning away for high carbon fuel sources.
  • This is going the wrong direction: Climate activists have opposed the pipelines not just because they’re so dirty, but also because they discourage developing renewable technologies. Anthony Swift, staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that the U.S. will have to choose to either support the development of “one of the most carbon-intensive sources of energy in the world” or move toward seriously cutting greenhouse gases.

The pipeline is invading land that legally belongs to Native Americans.

  • One of the four deficiencies noted in the Environmental Assessment report was “cultural resources” and there is an impressively long list of Native American Tribes supposedly invited to comment on this issue. (2019 SEIS p. S-9)
  • An update on that: In a new bid to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, two Native American communities are suing the Trump administration, saying it failed to adhere to historical treaty boundaries and circumvented environmental impact analysis. As a result, they are asking a federal judge in Montana to rescind the 2017 permit and block any further construction or use of the controversial pipeline.
  • Act of war: Similar to the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Keystone XL’s blueprints have it running through the great Sioux Nation Lands, which are protected under the Treaties of Fort Laramie 1851 & 1868. In the Indigenous Policy Journal, it reads: “According to the Treaties, no outside entity can use the land without the consent of the tribe. The Sioux claim that if the U.S. government permits the pipeline they will block all access and the tribes will consider this action to be an ‘act of war against their people.’”
    • The Native American Rights Fund wants everyone to write in. Their points include:
    • The pipeline crosses tribal lands, and the treaties must be honored. The US must engage in meaningful tribal consultation and obtain tribal consent.
    • The SEIS describes adverse environmental impacts from building the Keystone XL Pipeline, which supports not building the KXL Pipeline.
    • The existing Keystone pipeline leaks more frequently than company estimates. Any new pipeline will leak, it is just a question of when and how often.
    • Any project that crosses tribal lands must be in compliance with tribal laws and regulations.
    • The dire climate change findings in the SEIS support the argument against the XL pipeline.
    • This pipeline will benefit a Canadian company and its shareholders. It’s a threat to our climate, our drinking water, and our safety. It has willfully ignored the pipeline’s impacts on tribal communities.

Conflicts of interest

Back in 2013, it was found that an environmental impact statement thought to be authored by the State Department for the Keystone XL pipeline, was written instead by a private company bribed to write a rose-colored report. According to an analysis of the public documents, “the Environmental Resources Management was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanada to write the statement.” Within the “official government” document, the analysis estimates, then dismisses, the pipeline’s gigantic carbon footprint and other environmental impacts due to the fact that “the mining and burning of tar sands is unstoppable.”

The pipeline could endanger many animals and their habitats in the U.S. and Canada.

Ok, here’s the cover of the SEIS. It’s unintentionally hilarious that it shows all the things endangered by the project it defends, i.e., clean water, clean land, and…whooping cranes.

supplemental application XL
  • (From 2019 SEIS p. S-40) “Potential Effects of the Proposed Project from Accidental Releases” (any) spill may have impacts on wildlife that could extend beyond the spill area. Physical impacts could arise from direct contact with released petroleum products. Toxicological impacts result from the chemical and biochemical actions of petroleum-based compounds on the biological processes of individual organisms and could include: direct and acute mortality; subacute interference with feeding or reproductive capacity; disorientation or confusion; reduced resistance to disease; tumors; reduction or loss of various sensory perceptions; interference with metabolic, biochemical and genetic processes: and many other acute or chronic effects… The Keystone XL Project crosses fisheries, and a release affecting areas along the banks and within the stream could temporarily restrict public access for fishing for the duration of cleanup.”
  • Bird populations in danger: The pipeline passes over areas which provide habitats for 10% of the waterfowl population in the Continental United States. The greater sage-grouse has already lost some of its habitat. Excessive construction and noise pollution could impact the breeding success of bird populations. In Montana, Keystone XL would cross the North Valley Grasslands, an officially designated Important Bird Area. In south-central Nebraska the proposed pipeline route passes through the Rainwater Basin Important Bird Area,
  • Whooping cranes in danger – part 1: Scientists are deeply concerned about the potential harm to Whooping Cranes. Deepwater Horizon mercilessly demonstrated the near impossible task of cleaning oil from a marsh or wetland.  And this oil—tar-sands oil—is much more corrosive, toxic and difficult to clean up. Once coated with sticky oil, the birds would be unable to insulate and regulate their temperatures and could slowly die from hypothermia or acute toxicity. Imagine the brown pelicans in the Gulf but with much thicker oil (and much more endangered birds).
  • Whooping cranes in danger – part 2: In addition to the grave risk of catastrophic spill, whooping cranes would be put at still further risk by the installation of aerial power lines that would be constructed to power pumping stations on the proposed pipeline route.  According to the National Wildlife Federation, the whooping crane is at risk of flying into new power lines constructed to keep oil pumping through the Keystone XL pipeline. Collisions with power lines are already the largest known cause of death for migrating Whooping cranes. This proposal would result in hundreds more miles of aerial lines throughout the birds’ migrating path, compounding the likelihood of disaster.  These aerial lines won’t be built without the pipeline and the pipeline won’t be built without them. 
  • Since TC Energy has no problem suing people to get rights to their property, we have exactly zero belief that they’ll let nesting terns, or any other natural issue stop them, when they have a full crew and heavy equipment waiting to go, though a lot of pages have been wasted with promises that they won’t just run over everything. (2019 SEIS: Table S-4 “Resource Protection Measures” p.S18–38)


  • Keystone pipeline spills 9,120 barrels of oil in Dakota Wetlands (EOS)
  • Keystone’s existing pipeline spills far more than predicted to regulators. (reuters)
  • 10 myths. (buzzworthy)
  • The Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline is Still a bad idea (NRDC)

Originally posted on Indivisible Ventura. Re-posted with permission.

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