TransCanada Can Move Ahead With Texas Portion of Pipeline, But the Fight Isn't Over

Categories: The Environment

The raw ingredient.
Earlier this month, three East Texas hamlets with a collective population of fewer than 2,000 souls filed suit in a federal court in Oklahoma City to halt construction of the southern half of The International Pipeline Formerly Known as Keystone XL. The Keystone was to be a massive piece of infrastructure capable of carrying some 700,000 barrels of diluted bitumen mined from the forests of Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries. The cities of Reklaw, Alto and Gallatin feared a pipeline rupture and the impact it could have on their main source of water -- the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer. The pipeline's route also would carry it past Lake Columbia, Marvin Nichols Reservoir and George Parkhouse Reservoir, all municipal water prospects for Dallas.

The towns sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prevent the issuance of the final permit TransCanada would need to begin construction, but on Friday the company announced it had received it. Construction, the company announced, could commence "within weeks."

The three tiny towns may be down, but they aren't out. Not yet. On Friday, a federal judge in Oklahoma City will decide whether to issue a preliminary injunction against the corps. If Judge David Russell declines, they have few options, says Rita Beving, a consultant for the towns.

The pipeline became a political line in the sand in late 2010. Republicans called it a job creator and a source of oil from a friendly country. Democrats warned of the environmental risks posed by its cargo -- fossil fuel whose extraction more closely resembles strip mining. Republicans forced President Barack Obama to make a rushed, up-or-down call on the project, so he took the State Department's advice and denied the permit.

TransCanada split the pipeline into two segments. Obama asked federal regulators to fast-track approval of the southern segment passing through Texas. Barring an injunction from a federal judge, the second segment will extend from an oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Texas petrochemical locus on the Gulf of Mexico. The towns of Reklaw, Alto and Gallatin say the Corps of Engineers skirted a rigorous environmental impact analysis of more than 1,000 water crossings by "piecemealing" approval in half-acre segments.

If the folks out in East Texas are afraid of a diluted biumen (DilBit) spill, it isn't as though they don't have reason. The bitumen, in its raw form known as tar sands, is diluted with benzene-laced natural gas liquids and pumped at high pressure and temperatures. Between 800,000 and a million gallons of it were spilled into a creek feeding Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010. The clean-up, at a cost approaching nearly $1 billion so far, is ongoing. Enbridge, the pipeline company, reportedly had some 800 smaller spills over the last decade.

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Montemalone topcommenter

Who cares about a little ecological devastation if it means all these idiots can keep commuting to work in gas guzzling suvs and trucks?


The costs significantly outweigh the benefits? Let's do it!


Really funny this is a big deal in the media. We are surrounded by pipelines they are everywhere, with all sorts of shit in them. If your going to make this argument you had better start removing rail road tracks too, most of them run right down the river bank and are full of multiple kinds of crazy shit, from corn juice to hydrochloric acid


But if we don't let them pipeline it to Houston they will ship it to China, and we all know that there are no ships going to China from that little bitty port in Houston . . .

scottindallas topcommenter

 @gmit What's not funny are people like you who are too frustrated to consider the routes of the pipelines.  I don't have a problem with a pipeline, but the exact route matters more.    Obama didn't halt this pipeline, Nebraska did.  There it went over aquifers and other sensitive areas.  A reroute is in the cards, as it sounds like it needs to be here.  


Perhaps you need to familiarize yourself with the 800,000  barrels of oil that were spilled last month.  Oh yeah, Fox  didn't cover that, nor the neglect.   Where this goes is more important than whether or not to build it.

 @gmit These will be a completely new process that will carry unprecedented product through lines that are decades old and were never meant to carry this shit. And that's what it is...oil/tar/shit. The thickest and the worst. So when they start forcing it through these pipelines at high temps and speed, you had better pray real hard that somewhere down the line, they don't bust a seam and then spill. You also better hope that the Texas Railroad Commission has done a complete inspection of these pipes and where they travel. With their track record, it's not looking good for anyone. Hope this helps you to better understand the situation as your comments did show a lack of education about the topic.


My guess is that some other competing "fuel" doesn't want this built, and is trying to keep those damm Canadians in their place. Its easy to say that processes involved in energy are bad because they are all bad, but we kinda need to stuff 


 @ket354 It will all get shipped to China even if it goes to Houston.   The talk of energy self sufficency is a bunch of BS.


PHMSA requires all pipelines coming from Canada to be pumped at 72% of operating capacity pressure. Also the temperature that it is piped through at is between 80F and 90F - no different than other conventional oil pipelines. Not sure where you got your information but its not correct. Also TransCanada is not Enbridge who has had all the spills in the past. This article unfairly links the Enbridge Kalamazoo spill to Keystone XL and Gulf Coast Proejcts.

 Dare i quote you "Hope this helps you to better understand the situation as your comments did show a lack of education about the topic."

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