In a letter to the State Department, the EPA notes TransCanada has made a commitment to be responsible for any clean-up should Keystone XL leak and has taken steps to decrease the risk of a spill.
Yet, EPA’s contention that Keystone XL would increase greenhouse gas emissions puzzles TransCanada’s Shawn Howard.
“And the reason that we’re puzzled is this: it has been shown in five different reviews that the oil that comes from the oil sands is similar to other heavy oils,” Howard tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Howard contends there is no such thing as “average crude oil,” a reference made in the EPA letter. He claims over 100 blends of crude oil is refined in North America.
Still, in its letter, the EPA acknowledges that the analysis of climate change issues have improved since the first draft of the Department of State’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement while stating “…greenhouse gas emissions from development and use of oil sands crude is about 17% greater than emissions from average crude oil refined in the United States.”
Howard contends it doesn’t really matter, that crude produced from Canadian oil sands is already being transported to the American market by rail and truck.
“From our perspective they weren’t quite looking at apples to apples,” Howard says.
The EPA states oil sands crude would certainly reach the market without Keystone XL, most likely by rail.
One factor could alter that analysis: the drastic drop in oil prices. Sustained oil prices hovering between $65 and $75 per barrel could make it far less profitable to ship oil sands crude by rail, which is more expensive than a pipeline. Under that scenario, according to the EPA letter, Keystone XL would encourage development of crude oil from the Canadian oil sands.
Click here for the link to the U.S. Department of State Keystone XL Pipeline Project web page.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]