Tag Archives: Keystone XL

Keystone XL Pipeline Protests: TransCanada Security Detains New York Times Reporter


Read this story from the Huffington Post on the ongoing protests in Texas against initial construction work on the Keystone XL Pipeline. This week, a reporter and photographer from the New York Times were allegedly detained while covering the protests by security staff for the pipeline builder with the help of law enforcement. (Oct. 11, 2012)

Ongoing resistance and confrontations over the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline have reportedly sparked the detainment of two journalists in Texas this week. The news comes on the heels of other clashes between environmental protesters, law enforcement and security workers.


Following allegations of aggressive tactics by Texas law enforcement and the arrests of actress Daryl Hannah and a 78-year-old landowner, reports have surfaced that a reporter working for the The New York Times and a photographer were detained by security officials representing the pipeline’s builder, Alberta-based energy company TransCanada.


Reporter Dan Frosch and photographer Brandon Thibodeaux were covering the pipeline protest from private property, with the landowner’s permission, according to FuelFix. They were detained by “a private security worker and a law enforcement official,” but subsequently released after identifying themselves as members of the press.


Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told the site, “They were released and told that they were risking arrest for trespassing if they stayed where they were, so they left the location.”


According to NPR’s StateImpact project, Murphy said, “We obviously don’t want to be in a position where our reporters are facing arrest.”


TransCanada is using easements to construct its oil sands pipeline through areas of private property in the central U.S. FuelFix reported, “TransCanada could not immediately be reached to answer questions about the incident, but in an email a spokesman implied that the journalists did not have the right to report where they were because they were on the company’s right of way for pipeline construction.”

Tar Sands Blockade, a coalition of landowners and climate activists opposing the pipeline, said in a statement:

These events mark the latest in a series in which journalists and the Constitutional ideal of a free press suffer the same disrespect and abuse that TransCanada has shown to families along the Keystone XL pipeline route for years. Reports have included open threats of arrest on private property, the confiscation of cameras and video equipment, and arrests of by-standers on public right of ways. All the while, questions linger regarding the legality of policing the Keystone XL pipeline easement in this way.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/11/keystone-xl-new-york-times_n_1959033.html


TransCanada Begins Building Keystone XL in Texas Over Protests


Read this story from the Los Angeles Times on Canaddian company TransCanada Pipelines’ preliminary construction on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in Texas, amid strong opposition from local citizens and landowners. (Aug. 16, 2012)

The Canadian pipeline company TransCanada has quietly begun construction of the southern leg of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, installing segments near Livingston, Texas, company officials confirmed Thursday.

“Construction started on Aug. 9. So we’ve now started construction in Texas,” TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard told the Los Angeles Times.

The southern section of the pipeline received government approval in July.

The first in a series of protests also was launched Thursday as opponents of the pipeline, designed to eventually carry diluted bitumen from the tar sands of northern Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, unfurled protest banners at two equipment staging yards in Texas and Oklahoma.

“We just wanted to demonstrate that although they might be ready to begin, we would be ready to meet them,” Ron Seifert, spokesman for Tar Sands Blockade, said in an interview.

He said citizens are prepared to stage sit-ins and other civil disobedience actions to halt the effort of “an international bully” to begin building a pipeline that has spurred widespread protests across the U.S.

TransCanada hopes to construct a pipeline from the Canadian border to Texas. But President Obama in January rejected the company’s application for an international permit to build the entire structure, saying it needed further study — particularly of any route through the sensitive Sandhills of Nebraska, which lie atop a massive agricultural aquifer.

TransCanada has agreed to reroute the northern portion of the pipeline in Nebraska and has launched a new application. In the meantime, the company, with Obama’s endorsement, has moved to begin construction of the southern half, from Oklahoma to Texas. This portion does not require an international permit.

That construction was imminent became clear in late July, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the last of three key permits needed to build the southern section.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-keystone-xl-pipeline-20120816,0,6693892.story



Did Obama’s Rejection of Keystone XL Push Canada into China’s Arms?


Read this story from Yahoo News on the ramifications for Canada and the Alberta Tar Sands of the Obama Administration’s obstruction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas. (July 25)

China is in the process of acquiring a stake in Canada’s valuable Alberta oil sands, months after Obama suspended a plan to invest in the region.

Has China swooped in to claim a prize the U.S. forfeited? This week, China’s state-run energy giant CNOOC announced that it was buying Canadian oil producer Nexen for $15 billion, the largest-ever acquisition by a Chinese company. The deal would give China control over Nexen’s oil sands operations in the Canadian province of Alberta (among other Nexen oil properties around the world), a huge win for the energy-hungry nation. The purchase still needs to be approved by Canada’s parliament, which has blocked foreign takeovers of domestic businesses in the past. However, analysts say the odds look good, partly because oil-rich Canada has been forced to turn to other investors after President Obama suspended the Keystone Pipeline, a massive project that would have delivered oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, over environmental concerns. Did Obama push Canada into China’s arms?

Yes. Canada has to sell its oil to someone: When Obama stalled the Keystone Pipeline, “it spurred Canada to look to China as a new partner,” says Nathan Vardi at Forbes, and now “Canada’s vital oil industry appears to be drifting to China.” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded to Obama’s “snub” by immediately “heading to China to start negotiating energy deals.” If Canada continues “to diversify its economic dependence away from the U.S.,” it could be a “strategic setback for the U.S., which has been searching for years for secure sources of oil that are free from the political uncertainty that exists in Venezuela and the Middle East.”

“CNOOC’s Nexen deal shows how Obama pushed Canada toward China”

And Obama’s environmental objections are now moot: “The lesson for America, and especially Democrats, is that Canada’s oil sands will be [further] developed,” despite objections over the environmental impact, says The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. “If the U.S. doesn’t want the oil, China and the rest of Asia will gladly take it.” China is trying to “replace the U.S. as Canada’s biggest energy investor and market,” and Obama is letting it happen over the most meaningless of objections.
“China’s Canadian energy play”

Let’s not get carried away. Nexen’s Canadian presence is small: While CNOOC will win a stake in the Alberta oil sands, Nexen’s holdings in Canada are relatively small, say Lee Chyen Yee and Jeffrey Jones at Reuters. Canadian lawmakers are hardly enthusiastic about having their natural resources owned by communist China, but “most of Nexen’s assets lie outside Canada, making it less likely that it would be seen as a national champion falling into Chinese hands.” The deal is unlikely to spark a wave of Chinese acquisitions in the U.S.’s backyard, and the U.S. still enjoys a healthy advantage in its trade relations with Canada.

“China’s CNOOC scoped Nexen, partnered, then pounced”

Read more: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/did-obama-push-canada-chinas-arms-rejecting-keystone-142500318.html


Canada’s Oil, the World’s Carbon


Read this editorial in the New York Times about the US Department of State’s environmental assessment of the Keystone XL pipeline. Excerpt: “The climate question must be addressed, if only to give a full accounting of the range of consequences of developing the tar sands, an effort in which the United States will be complicit if it allows the pipeline. That includes the effect of destroying 740,000 acres of boreal forest (a vital sink for greenhouse gases); the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted in extracting the oil from the tar sands (a highly energy-intensive process); and the gases emitted by burning the oil.

The point was reinforced this month when 10 leading climate scientists sent a letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton asking the State Department to consider how helping to open Canada’s tar sands would affect the planet’s climate. ‘The vast volumes of carbon in the tar sands ensure that they will play an important role in whether or not climate change gets out of hand,’ the letter said. ‘Understanding the role this large-scale new pipeline will play in that process is clearly crucial.'”

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/canadas-oil-the-worlds-carbon.html


Washington Post: Trans Canada Likely to Reapply for Keystone XL Pipeline Permit Friday


Read this report from the Washington Post, suggesting Trans Canada Pipelines will likely reapply for a permit for its controversial Keystone XL Pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands to the US Gulf Coast. (May 3, 2012)

The Canadian firm behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will reapply as early as Friday for a federal permit to ship carbon-intense crude oil from Alberta to the United States, according to people familiar with the company’s plans.

In January, the Obama administration denied a permit for TransCanada, the firm hoping to build the project, on the grounds that a congressionally mandated deadline of Feb. 21 did not give officials enough time to evaluate the pipeline’s impact. Since then TransCanada has said it would proceed with plans to construct the segment running from Cushing, Okla., to Port Arthur, Tex., and unveiled a new route for the pipeline in Nebraska.

President Obama, environmentalists and many Nebraskans — including the state’s Republican governor Dave Heineman — had raised concerns that the project’s original Nebraska route could imperil the ecologically sensitive Sandhills region, as well as the Ogallala aquifer, a major source of drinking water for the state’s residents.

The move will revive one of the year’s most contentious political issues — which has divided the Democratic base between environmentalists and some unions, and has unified Republicans in support of what they view as a critical source of energy supply for the U.S. — just months before the November elections.

The new route TransCanada proposed in mid-April would steer clear of northwestern Nebraska’s Sandhills region, though it still runs over parts of the Ogallala aquifer. The state’s environmentalists argue that Nebraska officials have defined the Sandhills region too narrowly and say that the revised route will traverse the Sandhills in Nebraska’s northern Holt County.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/transcanada-to-reapply-for-keystone-pipeline-permit-sources-say/2012/05/03/gIQAfbksyT_story.html


Breaking: Obama to Reject Keystone XL Pipeline Today (But Will Allow TCP to Re-apply with Different Route)


Read this story form the Washington Post, which reports that Obama is expected to reject the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline today. (Jan. 18, 2012)

The Obama administration will announce this afternoon it is rejecting a Canadian firm’s application for a permit to build and operate a massive oil pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border, according to sources who have been briefed on the matter.

However the administration will allow TransCanada to reapply after it develops an alternate route through the sensitive habitat of Nebraska’s Sandhills. Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns will make the announcement, which comes in response to a congressionally-mandated deadline of Feb. 21 for action on the proposed Keystone pipeline.

Read original post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/2012/01/18/gIQAwoVE8P_story.html


Keystone XL Bogged Down in “Boiling Sands” of Nebraska


Read this interesting story from The Globe and Mail regarding the key geological challenge facing TransCanada’s controversial proposed Keystone XL.

Boiling sands are areas where sandy soil is so thin that groundwater can
bubble up through it to the surface. In Nebraska, they are found in the
Sand Hills, an ecologically sensitive region of grass-covered dunes
underlain by a giant freshwater aquifer, called the Ogallala, that
sustains agricultural production down the centre of America.

For TransCanada, Nebraska would come to form the heart of a fierce
opposition to a $7-billion pipeline project that has now been put on
hold, after a groundswell that started in Cornhusker country swept
through activist environmental groups to Washington, D.C…

…TransCanada saw the Sand Hills as any pipeline builder would – as an
engineering challenge, one that could be managed with special
construction techniques and a tailor-made plan, drafted after speaking
with local experts, to rehabilitate unearthed land.

But as TransCanada developed its Keystone XL plan, the world was changing.
(Dec. 24, 2011)

Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/the-politics-of-pipe-keystones-troubled-route/article2282805/


Border Security Deal’s Ugly Twin Carries Major Energy and Environmental Implications for Canada


Harper’s government officially announced in recent weeks a new Border Security deal with the US. However, little press space was given to the ugly twin of this deal – the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) and their “Joint Action Plan”. The RCC was set up to “streamline” regulations in four economic sectors engaged in cross-border trade. These sectors are Food & Agriculture, Transportation, Energy and Environment and Personal Care Products.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the press release for the RCC’s Joint Action Plan. The word “Energy” was dropped from the Energy and Environment sector. That’s right. Never mind that energy, including oil, natural gas and hydroelectricity, is arguably the most important sector of Canada-US trade in today’s constrained energy supply world.
Mounting opposition to pipeline development on both sides of the border make the Energy word a bit loaded politically for Harper and especially Obama right now. (Visions of the protesters surrounding the White House and the BC First Nations announcement of opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline float in my head as I write this). At any rate, it was conveniently dropped. The new Environment-only sector in the Action Plan concerns itself with fairly benign co-operation on air quality standards for emissions from light duty vehicles and trains and levels of particulate matter in air.
To understand what poison pills may await us in the not-talked-about-but-still-there Energy trade sector, a look at the RCC Consultation Report released in February of this year is required.

This document is important in that it contains the complete consultation list of regulatory harmonization items to be considered for implementation. That is the basis of Action Plan items, which is clear from the page 5 Action Plan statement: “Stakeholder input was key in developing this initial Joint Action Plan, which represents a first set of actions and initiatives that will begin the process of developing more closely aligned regulatory systems between the U.S. and Canada.”

And also from the page 9 Statement: “…there were a number of suggested initiatives that were considered but not included in the initial Joint Action Plan. The RCC will continue to examine these suggestions as it develops areas for future work.”
Of the eight suggested initiatives which the government chose to list in the Consultation Report’s Energy and Environment section (Appendix B, page 22) consider the following three:

  1. Streamline permissions for and construction of new cross-border energy infrastructure, e.g.,a single Canada–U.S. regime for permitting oil and gas pipelines.
  2. Ensure common approaches to nuclear liability in the event of litigation arising from nuclear incidents.
  3. Avoid policies that discriminate against particular fuel sources, such as low-carbon fuel standards (for types of crude oil) or renewable electricity standards (for large-scale hydro).

As is always the case, the public is the last to find out the government’s plans, but it takes only a modicum of common sense to see that Harper’s moving of the Environmental Assessment Process to the National Energy Board from the Ministry of Environment, the subsequently announced streamlining of the Environmental Assessment Process, and the budget cuts to the Ministry Environment resulting in fewer and fewer monitoring facilities and scientists to staff them or to write reports on environmental implications of resource extraction are all related to establishing a “single Canada–U.S. regime” for pipelines and other cross-border infrastructure.

In the wake of both the Fukushima disaster in Japan and the privatization of the Canada’s nuclear industry, the limiting of liability in the wake of nuclear accidents is particularly chilling. One expects that like the US (which, for example, limits liability on the costs of oil spills to a ridiculously low amount in dollar terms), we can expect to see similar regulations in Canada regarding nuclear accidents.
And finally, neither Tar Sands oil nor hydroelectricity will be “discriminated” against in the future by regulations in either country. The term “Large-scale” hydro projects remains undefined in the document. But surely Site C Dam would qualify for non-discrimination and perhaps some of the larger ruin-of-the-river projects.
The RCC documents are all written with the outdated and disproven arguments of increased “customer choice” and “decreased customer cost”, hand-in-hand with public safety and environmental protection enhancement. The public knows none of this is true. But Harper marches on, head down and in step with his corporate buddies, to the beat of the trickle-down economics drum, while global markets implode, citizens arise en masse and peak everything envelopes the world. No wonder he and Obama need to continue to build a police security state to enforce their policies on us.
The other three trade sector action plans and consultation report items will be discussed in future postings. They are equally, if not more, disturbing.

Nelle Maxey is a grandmother who lives in the beautiful Slocan Valley in south-eastern BC. She believes it is her obligation as a citizen to concern herself with the policies and politics of government at the federal, provincial and local level.


Republican’s Attempt to Force Obama into Hurried Decision on Keystone XL May Backfire, Killing Pipeline


Read this blog from the Natural Resources Defense Council, detailing how the forced inclusion by Republicans of a requirement for President Obama to make his decision on the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline in 60 days may very well amount to a Pyrrhic victory, forcing Obama to kill the pipeline altogether.

NRDC responded by calling out the inclusion as nothing but a political ploy.  My colleague Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, issued the following statement:

“Special interest riders do not belong in legislation designed to
help the American people. Republicans took the payroll tax-cut extension
bill hostage and delivered a year-end bonus to Big Oil. The president
went along in order to save hard-working Americans from a tax increase
on January 1, 2012. We get that.

“But with the Republicans forcing the president’s hand, he will have
no choice but to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline as not in the
national interest.”

The President said last week that he would not accept the inclusion of the pipeline tacked on to the tax extension legislation.  

Yesterday evening, a senior Administration official made it clear the
President intends to stand by his statement.  In a Reuters piece
entitled, “Obama backs tax deal but pipeline now in doubt”,
the senior official is quoted saying that Republican insistence means
the pipeline ”almost certainly will not be built” because the President
has made clear that he will not approve the pipeline without time for an
adequate review of the health, safety and environmental risks.

view was echoed by Senate Democrats.  Senator Schumer, commenting to
Bloomberg News, said that the inclusion of the provision was a “Pyrric victory” for the Republicans because the President won’t be forced into a decision.
(Dec. 17, 2011)

Read more: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/lizbb/will_republican_high_stakes_ga_1.html

photo by Mark Brooks

Shades of Green: The Keystone XL Protests and the Occupy Movement


The protest against the 2,763 km Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta’s tar sands to America’s Gulf States’ oil refineries are driven by a deeper concern than risk to Nebraska’s Sand Hills region and its underlying Ogallala aquifer. The same applies to The worldwide Occupy movement, too, is motivated by a deeper concern than unregulated banking practices and the growing disparity between rich and poor.

This deeper concern could be interpreted as criticism of the industrial and financial institutions that comprise the economic engines of our modern age. But even this is not deep enough. Both protests, it seems, have their deepest common cause in a loss of confidence in the system itself, a foreboding created by repeated warnings of profound environmental transformations that could traumatize our present civilization.

Granted, not everyone articulates this foreboding. But decades of multiple environmental warnings have been eroding confidence in a system that seems more interested in its own success than the ecological havoc it is causing. The cumulative effect of these warnings is a growing sense of anxiety and pessimism. Some people respond by entrenching their faith in the system and doing what they have always done; others are challenging the system by demanding change.

One of the forces behind the Keystone XL pipeline protests, for example, is an organization called 350.org. It contends that the continual burning of oil – especially the “dirty” oil of the Alberta tar sands – is environmental folly. Developing the tar sands simply entrenches an indefinite commitment to oil and prevents the necessary shift toward clean, renewable energies. 350.org believes that our reliance on fossil fuels is untenable so it is “defusing the carbon bomb” – 44 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from coal, 36 percent from oil and 20 percent from natural gas. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has now reached 393 parts per million from a historical level of 280 ppm, climate stability can only be assured at 350 ppm, and emissions are on a course for 450 ppm, a concentration that could reach the feared “tipping point” beyond which our planet’s ecology would shift into uncontrollable warming.

Science supports this prediction. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that by 2015, given our present global emission rates, we will have lost 90 percent of our safety margin for avoiding this tipping point. By 2017, without radical reductions in greenhouse gases, we will have reached this point. So, for 350.org, stopping the Keystone XL pipeline is literally a life-or-death issue. The next struggle will be to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline, a project by transnational corporations that intends to export Alberta’s tar sands oil from BC’s West Coast to Asia.

The Occupy movement is responding differently to the same foreboding. It implicates transnational corporations in a wide range of social, financial and environmental wrongs. While these corporations have generated considerable global wealth, they have done so by exploiting the disadvantaged at the expense of everyone else – the earnings of the world’s middle class have remained almost unchanged since the 1970s. Meanwhile, income of the wealthiest 1 percent has increased manyfold – the average 2009 income for each CEO of the 500 largest corporations was $8 million.

The Occupy movement also blames financial corporations for the Great Recession of 2008, the consequences of which are still echoing around the planet. The trillions of dollars borrowed by countries to shore up their banks and avert a financial collapse became an excessive burden on precarious economies already stressed by debt.

The other wrong that motivates the Occupy movement is the undue political and economic influence held by transnational corporations. Indeed, this influence is deemed so powerful that most nations equate economic health with corporate health. Meanwhile, these corporations show no allegiance to any particular nation – they invest where the constraints are lowest and the profits are highest. An analysis by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of the interlocking relationships of the world’s 43,000 transnational corporations revealed that a core of 1,318 controlled 80 percent of the world’s operating revenue. Within this core, 147 controlled 40 percent of all wealth (New Scientist, www.bit.ly/onkFR2). So these corporations own at least this share of the record 30.6 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases emitted in 2010.

Meanwhile, transnational corporate investments continue in oil, gas and coal, helped by global government subsidies in 2010 of $470 billion. To the many billions already invested in the Alberta tar sands, an estimated $253 billion will be spent over the next 25 years. The $7 billion to build the Keystone XL pipeline is an extension of this investment. So, too, is the $5.5 billion for the 1,172 km Northern Gateway proposal. Then add the multiple LNG plants proposed for coastal BC. The Sacred Headwaters of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers in central BC, described by the renowned ethnobiologist Wade Davis as a world wilderness treasure, will be trashed by the planned gas, oil and mining industrial development there. Corporate salmon farms operate with the same intrusive aggression. Indeed, few places on Earth can escape corporate capital and its hunger to exploit resources and feed its market.

A growing number of critics now recognize this trend as pathological and dangerous – and others are beginning to recognize their complicity. This is the awareness that is motivating the Keystone XL protesters. The global Occupy movement is motivated by a similar awareness. Its action was inspired by a single question posed in Vancouver’s Adbusters magazine: “What is our one demand?” Both protest groups would probably agree that a complicated answer is coalescing into a few simple words: “Give us back our countries, our democracies and our planet.”