Keystone XL lives! On Monday, TransCanada announced its next two moves in its fight to get the tar-sands pumping pipeline built, and its strategy now involves splitting the project into two parts. Because it stands to reason that if people object to one pipeline, they’ll have no problem with TWO pipelines!
Part No. 1: Cushing, Okla., to Texas refineries
Cushing, Okla., a small town smack dab in the middle of nowhere, plays an outsize role in global oil markets. There’s a huge oil storage facility there, and oil sold in Cushing helps determine world oil prices. TransCanada wants to forge ahead with building the segment of Keystone XL that will bring oil from Cushing to Texas’ hungry oil refineries, which process crude and ship it off. (That crude doesn’t necessarily help to meet U.S. oil demands: fuel was America’s largest export last year.)
Because this segment of the pipeline doesn’t cross any international borders, the State Department doesn’t have a say in its construction. So Keystone Jr. could skip right over the approval bottleneck that sunk its big brother. The White House, speaking via Press Secretary Jay Carney, is supportive of this pipeline segment: “We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to take every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits,” Carney said in a statement Monday.
The anti-Keystone XL coalition doesn’t exactly feel the same way. “Even though this doesn’t bring new oil in from the tar sands, we stand with our allies across the region who are fighting to keep giant multinational corporations from condemning their lands,” 350.org’s Bill McKibben said.
This portion of the pipeline could be up and running by early 2013.
Part No. 2: Canada to Cushing
TransCanada still wants to connect Alberta’s tar sands to those Texas refineries, though. It also announced Monday that it will file “in the near future” a new application to build a pipeline that crosses the border. The company still needs the State Department’s approval for this permit.
When President Obama originally delayed TransCanada’s application, he expressed concern about the pipeline’s route through the environmentally sensitive Sandhills in Nebraska. TransCanada says its working with the state to find a better route and will have that figured out by October or November of this year.
TransCanada hopes that would mean the State Department would make a final decision early in 2013 (after the presidential election) and this longer pipeline segment would be finished by 2015.
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