A top TransCanada executive says the latest environmental impact study released by the State Department confirms the Keystone XL pipeline will safety transport oil through Nebraska.
TransCanada Energy and Oil Pipelines Division President Alex Pourbaix says the draft released by the State Department confirms Keystone can be operated without harm to the environment and Pourbaix adds TransCanada has every reason to operate it safely.
“You would have to be insane to build a sub-standard pipeline or to operate it in a hap-hazard way,” Pourbaix tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “I think everybody has seen what happens to a company’s social license to operate when they have one of these problems. We have every motivation that we could ever have to operate this pipeline safely.”
A preliminary report prepared for the State Department released late last week sees no environmental threat from the Keystone XL pipeline. The analysis will be used by the State Department in its advice to President Obama on whether to grant TransCanada a permit to cross the Canadian-United States border and complete the $7 billion, 1,700 mile oil pipeline from western Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas.
It is a preliminary report, subject to a 45-day public comment period before a final draft is made. The State Department will base much of its recommendation to the president on the findings of the report.
The report states that, “The analyses of potential impacts associated with construction and normal operation of the proposed Project suggest that there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed Project route..” assuming TransCanada follows existing environmental regulations.
The report concedes pipeline leaks “could potentially impact groundwater where the overlying soils are permeable and the depth to groundwater is shallow.” A large crude oil pipeline leak into the Ogallala Aquifer “could result in oil spreading on the water table as far as 1,214 feet, and dissolved components of the oil, such as benzene, could spread as much as an additional 1,050 feet.”
[Click here for a link to the State Department report]
Pourbaix points out nearly 400 million barrels of oil have flown through the original Keystone pipeline in eastern Nebraska without incident the past 2 ½ years.
Pourbaix contends the United States will reap economic rewards if Keystone XL is built.
“We’ve always taken the position that the main reasons for this pipeline to go ahead for Americans are the economic stimulus this project is going to bring to the United States and the energy security that it is going to bring,” according to Pourbaix. “And, our opponents have always attempted to attack those very strong arguments by pushing these alleged environmental risks.”
Studies indicate TransCanada will employ approximately 10,000 construction workers to build Keystone XL and that pipeline construction would support 42,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“This project is probably the largest infrastructure project on the books in the U.S. today and I think that at the end of the day all this document from the State Department does is make it that much more clear why this project needs to go ahead and needs to go ahead quickly for Americans,” says Pourbaix.
TransCanada first applied for a permit in September of 2008. The project ran into intense opposition in Nebraska, sparking a special legislative session in 2011 in which TransCanada agreed to move the pipeline.
[Click here for Keystone XL pipeline link maintained by Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality]
Kevin Thomas, KLIN, contributed to this report.
AUDIO: Kevin Thomas interviews TransCanada executive Alex Pourbaix on Drive Time Lincoln, Part One. [10 min.]
AUDIO: Thomas interview of Pourbaix, Part Two. [6 min.]