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Keystone XL Pipeline and Tar Sands Facts

See the last pages for references and links cited. v11.11.11 by Kristen Walser

I. Pipeline Safety/Oil Spill Risks: certain leaks, uncertain response capability
Proponents speak about state of the art pipeline construction and standards
1. Tars sands oil is more acidic, has more sulfur, nitrogen, lead, nickel, mercury, arsenic, sand residue, and added hydrogen, naphtha, and/or other chemical solvents to dilute it enough to flow in a pipe, unlike typical oil. These ingredients make for friction and corrosion in pipes.
2. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Agency(PHMSA) has never done a study specific to tar sands oil in pipelines. 3 bills are in congress now, but the State Department decision will be made before the bills are even voted on, much less passed. (12)
3. PHMSA is severely underfunded and staffed (NYT,13)
4. TransCanada claims it will adhere to 57 increased pipeline safety standards. Only 12 of the 57 conditions differ from the minimum standards (7, pp.1-3)
5. TransCanada wanted a waiver from the standards, then withdrew request 2010 (7, p.1)
6. TransCanada requested another waiver to push the oil through the pipeline at a higher pounds per square inch (psi) from 1308 to 1440psi (7, p.5)
7. TC requested a waiver that would allow the company to use thinner gauge steel for the pipe in relation to the pressure in areas of “low consequence,” that is, rural areas. The company has since promised to forego that waiver, but they could also re-apply in the future. (9)
8. TransCanada estimates 1.18-1.83 leaks over 2100 gallons each year, 1.78-2.51 any size. Reality is the first Keystone pipeline had one leak of 21,000 gallons, plus 13 lesser leaks in the first year. TransCanada said .22 leaks per year could be expected from the pipeline. This information is misleading because most leaks are from fittings and seals at pumping stations or valves. They estimate the maximum potential leakage at 2.8 million gallons could occur on only 1.7 miles of the route. Maximum possible leakage of 672,000 gallons could occur on 842 miles. (all information from #2 FEIS, p. 8-9) On the Enbridge company’s pipeline leak in the summer 2010: 1 million gals leaked into the Kalamazoo River. 35 miles of the Kalamazoo River are still closed. (13) There were two other Enbridge leaks: 275,000 gallons near Chicago, and 126,000 gallons near Neche, ND. (10, p. 2)
9. TransCanada estimates approximately 12 minute response time to shut off valves (2, p.9). In the Kalamazoo spill, IT TOOK 12 HOURS (9)

II. Environmental Impact on US, Canada, and the World
A. US Water
1. An independent analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline estimated that a spill on the Missouri River could contaminate the river with over 134,000 barrels of oil and a spill on the Yellowstone River from the Keystone XL pipeline could release over 188,000 barrels of oil. Contamination of benzene on any major river (like the Missouri and the Yellowstone) could exceed drinking water standards for over 450 miles. (14)
2. “If a spill did occur (over the Ogallala aquifer), the potential for oil to reach groundwater in these areas is relatively high given shallow water table depths and the high permeability of the soils overlying the aquifer. In addition, we are concerned that crude oil can remain in the subsurface for decades, despite efforts to remove the oil and natural microbial remediation.” (EPA, 1, p.3) “[…T]he Ogallala aquifer […] serves as the primary source of drinking for millions of Americans and 30% of the nation’s groundwater used for irrigation” (4, p. 3)
3. Crosses 1,904 waterways
4. The Exxon Mobil pipeline spill of 42,000 gallons has cost $135 million so far (29)

B. Alberta: Canadian boreal forest, First Nation health, Athabasca River, Wildlife
1. Indigenous people near the mines have contracted an extremely rare cancer
2. Toxins have been found in the Athabasca River downstream from the mines
3. Water use from the Athabasca River is unsustainable, as its source is glacier melt
4. Toxic water mining by-products (tailings) are kept behind a 165 foot earthen berm feet away from the Athabasca River. The berm is already ‘creeping’.

C. Environmental damage/Resource usage
1. Energy Return On Energy Invested of 5
2. Uses 1/5 of current total world natural gas supply for diluent and steam production (6, p.42)
3. Uses (pollutes?) 2 to 4.5 barrels of water for every one barrel of oil (5)
4. The “Project” produces between 3 and 21 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, equal to “588,000 to over 4 million passenger vehicles” over conventional crude emissions, according to the Final EIS (2, p.ES-15)
5. Emits three times more carbon than conventional oil production (17)

III. Economics: We don’t need it, destined for export and Canadian profit
Proponents speak about manufacturing jobs
• Already over 2 million barrels per day of pipeline capacity good till after 2020 (1, p.1) including TransCanada’s first Keystone pipeline approved in 2008 for 591,000 barrels per day (bpd) and the 2009 Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper 800,000bpd (4, p.3),
• Adding XL’s 830,000 bpd would mean 3 million bpd capacity; so Keystone XL would be operating under capacity until 2025, so at a higher price. TransCanada admits price per barrel would rise $3, equal to $2 bill extra paid by US consumers. (4)
• $67 billion profits for oil industry last year (4)
• Infrastructure projects like this frequently force affected landowners and local taxpayers to bear a heavy burden in terms of environmental impacts and out-of-pocket costs. (9)
• This pipeline, which is proposed to carry Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast, is for the purpose of generating profit for a private company – it is for a private use.
• Valero, the top beneficiary of the Keystone XL pipeline, has recently explicitly detailed an export strategy to its investors. The nation’s top refiner has locked in at least 20% of the pipeline’s capacity, and, because its refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, is within a Foreign Trade Zone, the company will accomplish its export strategy tax free. (Source: Oil Change International) (9)
• “TransCanada has already signed contracts for nearly 50 percent of the steel pipe for the project.” (11)
• “A Russian company, Evraz, will manufacture roughly 40 percent in Canadian mills”. (11)
• “[A]n Indian company, Welspun, is likely to produce the rest [of the pipe]. Shipping and customs records reveal that TransCanada has already imported over 70,000 tons (nearly 10 percent of the total required in the project) of the carbon steel pipe from Welspun since April of this year.” (11)
• Global warming and extreme weather events may bankrupt insurance companies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (15)
• Development of tar sands oil is so expensive, oil prices must remain high and costs be kept down for production to be profitable. Analysis has shown that an oil price of $70 to $100 is required for production to be profitable, and in the upper range of this figure for in situ extraction”(20)

IV. Jobs: TransCanada 20,000 jobs is Cornell University’s 500-900
Proponents speak about 20,000 to a million jobs.
• In 2008, a report included in TransCanada’s Presidential Permit application for Keystone XL to the State Department said they anticipate “a peak workforce of approximately 3,500 to 4,200 construction personnel” to build the pipeline. In 2010, TransCanada put out a press release that said, “During construction, Keystone XL would create 13,000 jobs and further produce 118,000 spin-off jobs.” In 2011, TransCanada put out a fact sheet that said Keystone XL would “create about 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs.” (11)
• TransCanada own estimate in the EIS is 2,500-4,650 jobs created per year over two years. (FEIS, 11)
• The Cornell study reports “just 500 to 900 workers are expected to be hired locally—roughly 10-15% of the total workers hired.” (11)

• The FEIS also reports 10-15% of hires may be local, but that that may not be possible in rural areas. (FEIS,
• In Montana, that translates to 93 - 257 jobs for residents in Montana. (11)
• “The industry’s claim that KXL will create 119,000 total jobs (direct, indirect, and induced) is based on a flawed and poorly documented study commissioned by TransCanada (The Perryman Group study)”. (11)
• “Specifically, the faulty Perryman study redefines the KXL project to include Keystone’s Phase 2, a 298 mile 36-inch pipeline from Steele City, Nebraska to Cushing, Oklahoma that was built in 2010 and fully in-service as of February 2011. In other words, Perryman included more than $1 billion in prospective spending that has already occurred.” (11)
• “[O]perating costs for the U.S. section of their pipeline are minimal, and new permanent American jobs created would likely be as few as 50”. (11) Only 20 would be TransCanada employees according to the FEIS. (FEIS, section 2.4.1)
• “Keystone XL could actually cost America jobs, based on increased fuel costs and the expenses related to accidents and spills.” (11)

V. Canada can’t be trusted when it comes to protecting the environment (6)
• Canadian government appointed panel in 2011, co-chair Hal Kvisle former CEO of Trans Canada said existing monitoring system not credible because much of it is run by industry
• Canada lobbied against the US Energy and Security Act of 2007
• Lobbied against California low carbon fuels standard
• Last among G8 on climate action (6, p. 42)
• Exports deadly asbestos to Asia, while removing it from their own government offices
• Highest per capita emissions 22.6 metric tons of Greenhouse gasses(GHG) out or 17 industrialized nations (6, p.41)
• 58% of monitoring stations ranked water quality fair, poor, or marginal (6, p. 41)
• Lobbying the European Union against Fuel Quality standards because "Our fear is that if something happens in the EU and it is spread in other countries … we could have roughly one third of the world's population subscribing to regulation or legislation that mitigates against our oilsands," a provincial minister in Alberta said last year. (17)
• “Newly released government memos have exposed a secret war that Canada is waging in Europe to kill clean energy policies and ensure no market closes to the dirtiest crude in the world – the tar sands of Alberta.”(17)
• Canadian companies “now want to export [tar sands development] everywhere: Congo's rainforests, Russia's remote basins, the US desert, Jordan, Venezuela, Madagascar and even Trinidad and Tobago.” (17) and Morocco, Angola (18)
• Parliament voted down Responsible Mining Act in 2010 (6)

VI. Corporate- US Government Irregularities
• “The State Department has also faced charges of political conflict of interest over its handling of the Keystone XL application because TransCanada’s chief Washington lobbyist, Paul Elliott, was a top official in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.” (24)
• “Documents show that in May 2010 Elliott had arranged for Hal Kvisle, president and CEO of TransCanada Corporation at the time, to meet with David Goldwyn, head of international energy affairs for the State Department. "Our meeting with David Goldwyn and Michael Sullivan (another State Department official) was very productive," Elliott wrote to Toiv, his acquaintance from Clinton's campaign days. "David provided us with insight on what he'd like to see by way of on-the-record comment during this public comment period of this Keystone KXL draft environmental impact statement. We are working with our stakeholders, shippers and vendors to deliver on the insight David shared with us and to do so by the June 15 deadline."” (25)
• “TransCanada was quick to act on the coaching it got from Goldwyn. Three days later Elliott sent Goldwyn the text of a letter written by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer in support of pipeline approval. Similar letters followed in the months ahead.” (25)
• “At TransCanada’s recommendation, the [State] department hired Cardno Entrix, an environmental contractor based in Houston, even though it had previously worked on projects with TransCanada and describes the pipeline company as a “major client” in its marketing materials.” (24)
• “Oliver A. Houck, a law professor at Tulane University and an expert on NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act], said Cardno Entrix should never have been selected to perform the environmental study on Keystone XL because of its relationship with TransCanada and the potential to garner more work involving the pipeline. The company provides a wide ranges of services, including assisting in oil spill response.” (24)
• TransCanada has been playing cat and mouse with the understaffed, underfunded Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Agency (PHMSA) pipeline standards, first asking for waivers from pipeline safety standards, then saying they will fully comply, then admitting once they are permitted that they want to ask for waivers again. (see Pipeline section above)
• TransCanada contributed to the campaign coffers of Nebraska’s governor and Attorney General, who returned the money when it became apparent it was an illegal act.
• The Canadian government has lobbied heavily against improved fuel efficiency/quality standards in California and the US, to keep demand high for its dirty oil.
• The SDEIS/CardnoEntrix used incomplete geological data to conclude there were no active faults in the pipeline path. On 11/5/11 a 5.6 earthquake hit on or within 20 miles of the path. The SDEIS said“a complete structural failure could be caused by a strike-slip fault movement across the proposed pipeline.” The SDEIS goes on to say; “however, the proposed pipeline corridor does not cross any known active faults.” […]Mr. Dunbar goes on to say that the “USGS report was not intended to be a complete compilation of active faults in Central and Eastern U.S., rather it was intended to be an initial start to a compilation of potential areas for significant earthquakes, a source of reference material for seismicity. As such, it should not have been used to conclude that the faults in southwestern Rusk County are not active and therefore would not pose any risk to the proposed pipeline.” (27)

VII. Is the Keystone XL Pipeline in the “National Interest?”
Proponents: Our military personnel have sacrificed to protect the Middle East oil supplies. They talk about importing from a friendly country

• We receive only 18% on our imported oil from the Middle East, (9% of total used, 6% from Saudi Arabia, 3% others)(10)
• The crude is going to refineries in Texas where it is destined for export, not to improve our security.
• Increased greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and climate change are number four and five on President Obama’s list of top five threats to US security as outlined in the 2010 National Security Strategies document (8):
After discussing “how much trends beyond our shores directly endanger the personal safety of the American people”, using 9/11 as only the first example of this.
p. 8. “Yet these wars… are only one element of our strategic environment and cannot define America’s engagement with the world. Terrorism is one of many threats that are more consequential in a global age. The gravest danger to the American people and global security continues to come from weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons. The space and cyberspace capabilities that power our daily lives and military operations are vulnerable to disruption and attack. Dependence upon fossil fuels constrains our options and pollutes our environment. Climate change and pandemic disease threaten the security of regions and the health and safety of the American people.
Sustain Broad Cooperation on Key Global Challenges
Climate Change: The danger from climate change is real, urgent , and severe. The change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources; new suffering from drought and famine; catastrophic natural disasters; and the degradation of land across the globe. The United States will therefore confront climate change based upon clear guidance from the science, and in cooperation with all nations- for there is no effective solution to climate change that does not depend upon all nations taking responsibility for their own actions and for the planet we will leave behind."
• Reliance on tar sands oil will completely erase any efforts to reduce our reliance on oil

VIII. What are the Alternatives?
• Germany and Denmark have increased renewable energy sources and will reach Kyoto goals
• Redirect ”hundreds of billions to be invested over the next decade on oil sands production in Canada alone into the development of renewable fuel technologies and energy efficiency measures.”(18)
• Redirect research subsidies away from carbon capture and other fossil fuel oriented research.
• The Stockholm Environment Institute reported an energy scenario whereby the EU could cut emission by 40%by 2020 and 90% by 2050 through a “combination of radical improvement in energy efficiency, the accelerated retirement of fossil fuels and a dramatic shift toward various types of renewable energy, including wind, solar, wave, geothermal and biomass-based combined heat and power.” (19, p.1) The study used only “technical options that are either already commercially available, or that are reasonably well-developed now”(19, p. 8)
• Balance supply and demand of renewables by “greater regional interconnections, and localised energy storage options for RE (such as pump storage, compressed air energy storage, fly wheels or storage in electric vehicles and other battery systems).” (19, p.10)
• From the National Security Strategies 2010 document:
“Home: Our effort begins with the steps we are taking at home. We will stimulate our energy economy at home, reinvigorate the US domestic nuclear industry, increase our efficiency standards, invest in renewable energy, and provide the incentives that make clean energy the profitable kind of energy. This will allow us to make deep cuts in emissions- in the range of 17 percent by 2020 and more than 80 percent by 2050. This will depend in part upon comprehensive legislation and its effective implementation. Abroad: Regionally, we will build on efforts in Asia, the Americas, and Africa to forge new clean energy partnerships. Globally, we will seek to implement and build on the Copenhagen Accord, and ensure a response to climate change that draws upon decisive action by all nations. Our goal is an effective, international effort in which all major economies commit to ambitious national action to reduce their emissions, nations meet their commitments in a transparent manner, and the necessary financing is mobilized so that developing countries can adapt to climate change, mitigate its impacts, conserve forests, and invest in clean energy technologies. "
• “Transportation uses 72% of U.S. oil.(…) this influential Pentagon-cosponsored report shows how the United States can get completely off oil by the 2040s—profitably, at an average cost of $15/bbl (2000 $)—through integrated, technological, business and policy innovations emphasizing efficiency-focused, business-led transformation of vehicle designs.” (22)
• By 2030 we could run on green energy (23)


1. EPA letter to DOS 6/6/11 reviewing Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement
2. Department of State Final Environmental Impact Statement 8/26/11 http://www.keystonepi...
3. David Sassoon InsideClimate News 2/10/11 http://insideclimaten...
4. Fuel Facts NRDC 3/2011 Say No to Tar Sands Pipeline
5. Montana Environmental Information Center: Tar Sands Mining Impacts 11/2010
6. Andrew Nikiforuk, Blame Canada, NRDC Onearth fall 2011 http://www.onearth.or...
7. Elizabeth McGowen, InsideClimate News 9/19/2011 Keystone XL Pipeline Safety Standards Not as Rigorous as They Seem http://insideclimaten...
8. Barack Obama, National Security Strategies, 5/2010 http://www.whitehouse...
9. Northern Plains Resource Council http://www.northernpl...

10. US Energy Information Agency

11. Ben Jervey, Onearth 10,1,2011. http://www.onearth.or...

12. Pipe Dreams? Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost by the Construction of Keystone XL http://www.ilr.cornel...

13. Pipeline Spills Put Safeguards Under Scrutiny By DAN FROSCH and JANET ROBERTS

14. John S. Stansbury, Ph.D., a professor of engineering at the University of Nebraska, July 11 2011, Analysis of Frequency, Magnitude and Consequence of Worst-Case spills from the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline

15. http://marketplace.pu...
16. 2006 http://billingsgazett...
18. Carbon levels hit new peak, research shows. Preliminary data from the US government shows that carbon dioxide levels peaked last week at the highest levels on record, John Vidal, environment editor, Tuesday 31 May 2011 11.10 EDT

19. EU Fuel Quality Directive 2009

20. Tar Sands Fueling the Climate Crisis, Undermining EU energy security, and damaging developmental objectives
21. Timothy Gardner; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed © Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters http://www.biological... October 5, 2011
22. Rocky Mountain Institute, Winning the Oil Endgame.
23. Mz Jacobson and MA Delucci, Scientific American 301 (2009) 58-65. A Path to Sustainable Energy.
24. ELISABETH ROSENTHAL and DAN FROSCH Pipeline Review Is Faced With Question of Conflict Published: October 7, 2011
25. David Sassoon, InsideClimateNews “State Department Considered 2-Year Keystone Pipeline Delay—Briefly” 9/27/2011 http://insideclimaten...
26. Marie C. Baca, InsideClimate News “Keystone XL Primer: Secrecy Still Shrouds Diluted Bitumen Risks” http://insideclimaten...
27. David Daniel,, “Earthquake in Keystone XL Pipeline Route Proves State Department Wrong Again”, 11/6/11 http://stoptarsands.o...
28. Lisa Song, InsideClimateNews, “Public Comments on Keystone Pipeline Have Disappeared into a Procedural Black Hole”11/1/11 http://insideclimaten...
29. Yellowstone Public Radio news broadcast 11.09.2011

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Carbon Fee and 100% Rebate Top Ten List October 3, 2014 4:50 PM Kristen W.
REMI Report: Jobs AND 33% Reduction of CO2 June 11, 2014 9:49 AM Kristen W.
Carbon Tax and the Social Cost of Carbon January 26, 2014 8:11 AM Kristen W.
President's Climate Action Plan June 2013 July 31, 2013 8:16 AM Kristen W.
Science versus the Scientist June 11, 2013 10:32 PM Kristen W.
Renewables within 20 years June 11, 2013 10:29 PM Kristen W.
Basic Climate Science June 11, 2013 10:27 PM Kristen W.
Elevator speech for Fee and Dividend June 11, 2013 10:25 PM Kristen W.
Coall Train Facts April 18, 2013 5:42 PM Kristen W.
Green Schools Study Resolution SJ 29 April 6, 2013 1:31 PM Kristen W.
Contacting Legislators April 7, 2013 7:33 AM Kristen W.
Oil and Gas Tax Holiday March 3, 2013 4:51 PM Kristen W.

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