Pipeline Wars


The recent news about the latest hitches for the Keystone XL pipeline may have cheered its opponents, but not for long, especially if TransCanada can demonstrate positive emission offsets.

The debate over the Keystone Pipeline XL continues. Due to the crossing of international borders, TransCanada has to obtain a Presidential Permit to install these updates.  The president continues to repeat his position that the administration’s decision will be “based on whether or not this is going to significantly contribute to carbon in our atmosphere.”

Back in 2012, TransCanada, the Canadian energy company, pitched the idea to expand its Keystone Pipeline further throughout the United States. The current pipeline runs from Alberta, Canada all the way to Cushing, Oklahoma. Its main function is to transport synthetic crude oil and diluted bitumen, delivering up to 590,000 barrels per day.  The proposal made by TransCanada asks for an expansion of 1,700 new miles of pipeline. The expansion would travel through an additional two states, Montana and Texas increasing the delivery of an additional 240,000 barrels each day.

Supporters say the estimated $5.3 billion project will lower the price of gasoline and reduce the country’s dependency on foreign oil. Opponents however have raised concerns about the potential negative impacts of the Keystone XL project which include the risk of oil spills along the pipeline and 12–17% higher greenhouse gas emissions.

TransCanada has returned to the table with a new route and promises the creation of hundreds of new jobs, energy security, and economic prospects.  Yet despite these benefits, they are still facing a large amount of opposition.

Environmentalists have been trying to stop this proposal every step of the way, calling the pipeline an “environmental crime.” Their main concern lies in the carbon emissions that are generated by the oil production. The process of oil manufacturing and refinery is very energy-intensive, resulting in increased levels of carbon dioxide.

Currently, President Obama’s hesitations lie squarely with the environmentalists. He and his administration have called out for anyone with a solution to this problem to step forward.  Should TransCanada somehow demonstrate an offset of emissions, the project would be “green lit” which  would represent an amazing achievement for the United States in this current times of crisis.

The final decision will be made by Secretary of State John Kerry and is not expected until the end of the year or early 2014.


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