Keystone XL and Public Debate and State Report

Although the Keystone XL pipeline has yet to receive full presidential approval, the southern leg of the pipeline (referred to as the Gulf Coast line) has already become active.  On January 22, crude oil began flowing from Cushing, Oklahoma to refineries in Texas.

The 487-mile stretch of piping took $2.3 billion and 18 months to create.   TransCanada, the developer of this project, reports that the southern portion of the pipeline is able to ship up to 700,000 barrels of crude oil per day, though Alex Pourbaix, president of the company’s pipeline sector, is predicting an average of 520,000 barrels per day.

“The pipeline does provide a safe and direct connection between an important oil hub – probably the most important oil hub on this continent – in Cushing, Oklahoma, with the world’s most efficient refineries in the US Gulf Coast,” Pourbaix stated in an interview with NPR.

Although TransCanada is ensuring safety and efficiency, a large portion of the population still does not support the project.  Protesters continue to argue that the pipeline will cause considerable and irreversible damage to surrounding waterways, vegetation, and wildlife. 

These possible damages contribute to the reason President Obama is taking so long to decide if the northern leg of the pipeline will be approved or not.  Nearly five years has passed since the pipeline’s initial filing, and since it crosses an international border, it requires approval from the State Department.  If it is approved, crude oil will be transferred from Alberta, Canada to Texas refineries.

If the remainder of the pipeline is not approved, the amount of oil transferred via railways will continue to soar, and most likely, the number of accidents caused by this method.  400,000 gallons of oil were recently spilled when a train collided with a derailed train near Casselton, N.D., where it quickly ignited.  A similar situation occurred just a few weeks ago in the Canadian province of New Brunswick…and again in Quebec.

Whichever way President Obama decides to go with the Keystone XL pipeline will, undoubtedly, bring protestors to their feet.  If he approves the northern portion of the pipeline, landowners and environmentalists will object because of privacy issues and the potential harm to the earth.  If he does not approve, oil bigwigs and economists will object because of the transportation setback and the lack of jobs being created.  It’s impossible to please everyone.

What are your thoughts on the Keystone XL pipeline?  Will President Obama give the project his stamp of approval?  Or will he shut it down at the source?

Photo Credit: Keystone XL and Public Debate/shutterstock