TransCanada has delivered its first barrels of crude oil to the Texas coast through the Keystone pipeline system. The formal announcement was made by CEO Russ Girling in an interview Wednesday. The original pipeline has been in operation since 2010, but this is the first delivery involving its newly operational southern segment, which starts in Oklahoma and pushes through Texas. Girling confirmed that the oil started moving on January 2, and was delivered to Texas refineries 20 days later.
This news has drawn sharply contrasting reactions, as the Keystone XL pipeline has been mired in controversy as sticky as tar sands. It is a proposed northern leg which would carry crude from Alberta and the Bakken Shale region of North Dakota, eventually crossing Nebraska before joining an existing line in Kansas. As expected, there is quite a chasm between environmental protection interests and the fossil fuels energy industry, not to mention a divided Congress. While the State Department assessed that the XL pipeline would not cause an increase of greenhouse gas emissions, Nebraska remains ground zero for all matters regarding the pipeline’s fate. This is not entirely because of valid ecological concerns either, but rather due to a legal fight over eminent domain.
Girling reacted to last week’s court ruling handed down in Nebraska:
[box type=shadow]“It’s very frustrating, the continuous sort of barrage of these things that pop up. The Gulf Coast Project had its share of issues that we needed to deal with, and we just dealt with them in the best, most straightforward, honest way that we could.”[/box]
The “continuous sort of barrage” aimed at his little violin involves pesky trifles such as a safe water supply. Nebraska lies over the most important portion of the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides 30% of the water used for irrigation in the United States. While pipeline advocates stress their safety over that of railroad car transport, they are not foolproof. If the permit is ultimately denied, it may well come down to what is decided by the Cornhusker State.
Meanwhile, the nation awaits President Obama’s decision whether to approve the pipeline’s construction. He has promised to make an announcement within the next few months. A significant portion of his legacy could very well rest on the fate of Keystone XL. Whatever arguments have been made by its boosters regarding jobs, efficiency, safety, or energy independence, there is no do-over when oil contaminates an aquifer of supreme importance to our country’s well being.
h/t: Fuel Fix