What is the Status of Keystone XL?

By Patricia L Johnson

Do you really know the facts behind the Keystone XL Pipeline Project?

Executive Order 13337 signed April 30, 2004, by President George W. Bush dictates that the Secretary of State shall be ‘designated and empowered’ to receive all applications for Presidential permits for the exportation or importation of petroleum, petroleum products or other fuels to or from a foreign country.

Upon receipt of the application the Secretary of State or his/her delegate shall request additional information from the applicant and refer the application to the following, as well as any other Federal Government department and/or agency heads as the Secretary of State deems appropriate:

· Secretary of Defense

· Attorney General

· Secretary of the Interior

· Secretary of Commerce

· Secretary of Transportation

· Secretary of Energy

· Secretary of Homeland Security

· Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

On September 19, 2008 TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. submitted an application for

“a Presidential Permit authorizing the construction, operation, and maintenance of certain pipeline facilities for the importation of crude oil, to be located at the international border between the United States and Canada, at Phillips County, Montana” … “to transport crude oil production from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (“WCSB”) to existing markets in the Texas Gulf Coast area.”

The application goes on to state

“The Mainline segment of the Keystone Pipeline project, which extends from the North Dakota-Canada border to Wood River and Patoka, Illinois; and the Keystone Cushing Extension, which extends from Steele City, Nebraska, to Cushing, Oklahoma, are on schedule for completion in 2009 and 2010, respectively.”

TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P., is a limited partnership, owned equally by affiliates of TransCanada Corporation, a Canadian public company organized under Canadian laws and ConocoPhillips Co, a Delaware Corporation. The operator of the project will be TransCanada Pipeline LP.

The entire Keystone Pipeline Project consists of 3,861 miles of pipeline split into several phases as may be determined by viewing the TransCanada map which may be downloaded.

· Phase I – Hardisty in Alberta province Canada, through Saskatchewan province Canada, through Manitoba province Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, and through Kansas and Missouri to Patoka and Wood River, Illinois. This portion of the pipeline is complete per the following press release:

CALGARY, Alberta – June 30, 2010 – TransCanada Corporation (TSX, NYSE: TRP) (TransCanada) today announced that line fill of the first phase of the US$12 billion Keystone Pipeline has been completed and commercial deliveries of crude oil to U.S. Midwest markets at Wood River and Patoka, Illinois will commence on June 30, 2010.

· Phase II – Steele City, Nebraska to Cushing, Oklahoma. This portion of the pipeline is complete per the following TransCanada press release:

CALGARY, Alberta – February 8, 2011 – TransCanada Corporation (TSX, NYSE: TRP) (TransCanada) today announced the second phase of the US$12 billion Keystone Pipeline system has begun commercial deliveries of crude oil to Cushing, Oklahoma. The second phase is a new, 480-kilometre (298-mile) extension from Steele City, Nebraska to Cushing, Oklahoma and an increase in Keystone’s nominal capacity to 591,000 barrels per day (Bbl/d), of which 530,000 Bbl/d is contracted.

· Phase III – Cushing, Oklahoma to Nederland, Texas. This portion of the pipeline is complete per the following TransCanada press release:

NEDERLAND, TEXAS–(Marketwired – Jan. 22, 2014) –TransCanada Corporation (TSX:TRP) (NYSE:TRP) (TransCanada) announced today that at approximately 10:45 a.m. CST on January, 22, 2014, the Gulf Coast Project began delivering crude oil on behalf of our customers to Texas refineries. The completion of this US $2.3 billion crude oil pipeline provides a safe and direct connection between the important oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma and delivery points on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

As you will note from reading the above press releases and looking at the TransCanada map we are already able to move oil from Canada south to Nederland Texas

What is left to build is the 1,179 mile long 36-inch-diameter pipeline which begins in Hardisty, Alberta province Canada and travels through Saskatchewan province in Canada to Morgan, Montana, and south through South Dakota to Steele City, Nebraska. The advantages of this pipeline are outlined in a booklet published by TransCanada/Keystone XL

On February 3, 2012 Denial of the Presidential Permit was published in the Federal Register

The denial of the Presidential Permit had little to do with the actual permit. After receiving 1.9 million public comments, and holding nine public comment sessions in the six states involved, the State Department determined further information would be required on alternative routes avoiding the Sand Hill Region of Nebraska. Transcripts follow:

Port Arthur, Texas – September 26, 2011 (transcript, 743 kb)

Topeka, Kansas – September 26, 2011 (transcript, 457 kb)

Glendive, Montana – September 27, 2011 (transcript, 682 kb)

Lincoln, Nebraska – September 27, 2011 (transcript, 670 kb)

Austin, Texas – September 28, 2011 (transcript, 774 kb)

Atkinson, Nebraska – September 29, 2011 (transcript, 827 kb)

Pierre, South Dakota – September 29, 2011 (transcript, 718 kb)

Midwest City, Oklahoma – September 30, 2011 (transcript, 602 kb)

Washington, D.C. – October 7, 2011 (transcript, 621 kb)

The request for an alternate route became a political football when Congress became involved and inserted a clause into the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act H.R. 3765, P.L. 112-78, December 23, 2011 regarding Keystone XL as follows:


Subtitle A–Keystone XL Pipeline


(a) <<NOTE: Deadline.>> In General.–Except as provided insubsection (b), not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the President, acting through the Secretary of State, shall grant a permit under Executive Order No. 13337 (3 U.S.C. 301 note; relating to issuance of permits with respect to certain energy-related facilities and land transportation crossings on the international boundaries of the United States) for the Keystone XL pipeline project application filed on September 19, 2008 (including amendments).

Since it was physically impossible to obtain an alternate route from TransCanada, have it go through all necessary approval channels and prepare a final EIS within 60 days, Congress offered no other option to the Administration but to deny the original XL application.

When and if, the XL portion is complete and operational we will actually have a quantity of two pipelines beginning in Hardisty, Alberta province Canada traveling south through the United States.

On May 4, 2012 TransCanada, Keystone Pipeline LP submitted their revised route Presidential Permit Application and exhibits for consideration of Keystone XL as follows:

05/04/12 Presidential Permit Application From TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP [4001 Kb]

05/04/12 Permit Application Exhibit A From TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP [7338 Kb]

05/04/12 Permit Application Exhibit B From TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP [1317 Kb]

05/04/12 Permit Application Exhibit C From TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP [2118 Kb]

05/04/12 Permit Application Exhibit D From TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP [5459 Kb]

On January 31, 2013 the Department of State issued their Final SEIS Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

Notice was published in the Federal Register, five days later, on February 5, 2014 providing members of the public and other interested parties the option to comment “on any factor they deem relevant to the national interest determination that will be made for the Presidential Permit application”.

The 30-day public comment period will close on March 7, 2014. There are two ways, and only two ways, to comment on the proposed pipeline. You may submit comments online to regulations.gov or you may mail comments directly to:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Energy Resources, Room 4843
Attn: Keystone XL Public Comments
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Please note that any comments made are not private and will be made available to the public.

Following is a link to a joint report issued by Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, Pipeline Safety Trust and the Sierra Club outlining the safety risks involved in transporting this particular type of oil http://www.nrdc.org/energy/files/tarsandssafetyrisks.pdf

It doesn’t matter if you have a poor memory because it wasn’t that long ago the United States suffered the worst oil spill in the history of this country “On the evening of 20 April 2010, a gas release and subsequent explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig working on the Macondo exploration well for BP in the Gulf of Mexico” http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/gulf-of-mexico-restoration/deepwater-horizon-accident-and-response.html

Along with the injured there were a total of 11 deaths in the explosion and it is estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico. According to a Forbes article of February of 2013 the Macondo incident has already cost BP a total of $42.2 billion dollars and it’s not over yet.

Some folks may question why it is taking so long to approve Keystone XL, but my question is why are we even considering approving a second pipeline? What will it do for us as a country? One of the selling points of Keystone has been the fact that it will reduce our dependence on foreign oil from Mexico and Venezuela.

Phase I of this operation has already been operational for almost four years, has it reduced our need for foreign oil? Phase II of the operation has been in operation for over three years, has it reduced our need for foreign oil?

Has it produced the tens of thousands of jobs that were claimed? Has it improved our economy to the extent claimed?

Keystone is the largest privately funded project that has ever been built in this country and my own personal opinion is there has not been nearly enough time spent trying to determine whether or not this project will ultimately be in our national interest to pursue.

It’s obviously in the best interests of those members of Congress that have invested heavily in the project, and it’s obviously in the best interests of folks like the Koch Brothers that own refineries, and it’s obviously in the best interests of the oil companies, and anyone connected to the oil industry but is it really in the best national interest of this country?

© 2014 Patricia L Johnson

Patricia Johnson

Patricia Johnson

Patricia L Johnson is a former special assignment writer/photographer and co-owner of the Articles and Answers News and Information sites.
Patricia Johnson
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