Keystone Basics

Answers to Some Basic Questions

Answers to some of Nebraskans' persistent questions.
Will the Keystone XL create jobs? Not many.  From the  Cornell University Global Labor Institute, which is supported by unions, comes this  estimate: 2,500 to 4,650 temporary construction jobs [nationwide] over three years, most of them non-local.   And the pipeline will cost American farmers more in higher gas prices. 
     Read the study here.
Will the Keystone XL spill? The Keystone I already has spilled after only a few months of operation.
     Disasters are not planned, they just happen, through bad planning, accident, human error, or ignorance.  That's why we have flood, car, fire, and house insurance.
Did BP think their Gulf drilling would ever leak? Did Exxon plan to spill into the Yellowstone River?  Did Enbridge want to deposit tar sands crude into Michigan's Kalamazoo river? Of course not.
  • The most important answer is that TransCanada planned from the beginning to
    push crude through the Keystone XL at higher-than-normal pressure.
    After advice from the State Department, the company expects to wait until after approval is granted to ask for an exemption from the  pressure rules. 
  • The second most important is that the pipe is being laid into the ground without any additional protections.  See our video.
Do not count on government help after there is a disaster. Prevent it first.

BP withholds oil spill facts — and government lets it
U.S. agency let oil industry write offshore drilling rules
Will the Keystone XL raise or lower oil prices? The Keystone will raise prices.

Why?  There is an over-supply of crude oil in  midwest storage.  Too much of anything keeps the price low.  As soon as the crude oil gets to the Texas refineries, the supply will decline, and prices will go up.  Pipeline Will Raise Gas Costs, Kill Jobs
Why should we believe there will never be a spill? There have already been numerous spills in TransCanada's high-tech, state-of-the-art pipeline.
     In May, 2011 there was a 21,000 gallon spill in North Dakota,  the 11th spill -- an average of one per month -- from TransCanada’s other tar sands pipeline, Keystone 1.  TransCanada says their equipment will detect spills, yet the 60-foot plume of oil spilling in Sargent County, N.D. was spotted by a farmer, not the company.  To date there have been 14 spills.
     TransCanada and Enbridge, competitor pipeline companies,  are the primary causes of concern by the Canadian safety board over oil spills in Canada.  According to the Vancouver Sun, the Keystone I pipeline caused 21 incidents over past two years.
Who will benefit the most from the Keystone XL? Not  taxpayers, for example.
    Kansas state officials gave TransCanada an exemption from local property taxes for ten years. Local authorities estimate a $50 million loss in public revenue.
    The big players in this pipeline proposal are the Koch Brothers,five foreign and one American petroleum contracted to refine the tar sands crude, and TransCanada, who hopes to become America's Number One pipeline company.
Will the Keystone XL poison water? Yes, when it spills.     The Keystone XL is planned to run through the water fields of the town of Seward, NE.  The pipeline will run nearly 100 miles through the Ogallala Aquifer.   The Alberta oil companies have not been willing to say what chemicals
[4] are put into the tar
sands crude to lighten it enough to make it flow.  Why not?
    More than $20 billion worth of crops-- including corn, wheat, sorghum, cotton, soybeans, and beef -- depend on the Ogallala. It's the country's most important safeguard against hunger. Would you put a breakable bottle of poison inside your child's milk bottle?  Or would you store it in a safe place instead?  Isn't protecting the Ogallala just common sense?
Will the Keystone XL provide "energy security?" No.  The Keystone XL will end at Port Arthur, TX, where the oil can be refined and put on ships.  [5]
     Why would we make it easy to export crude oil running from Canada to Texas?  Why do we want to be an easy conduit from Alberta to the ocean?

What can the Nebraska legislature do to protect Nebraska Nebraska officials can pass legislation protecting the Sandhills from all future oil pipelines, including the Keystone XL.  They must act now, not later. 
What can you do?
  • Write, fax, phone, or email  all your elected officials in Congress and in the Nebraska
  • legislature. 
  • Tell Nebraska officials they MUST pass laws to move the pipeline route out of the Sandhills.  
  • Tell them you will vote for their opponent if they do not take EFFECTIVE action.  Saying you oppose the pipeline but doing nothing is not "effective action."

1. Also included in the newly released emails are  discussions of Trans-Canada's decision to abandon its controversial application for a waiver to run oil through the pipeline at pressures higher than those now used on oil pipelines in the U.S., resulting in a lower margin of safety. Facing staunch opposition from conservationists, the company abandoned its application, but the new emails reveal that State Department employees were made aware of Trans-Canada's intention to reapply for the higher-pressure permit later. "I
take it that withdrawing the request does not preclude [Trans-Canada Pipelines] from resubmitting in the future?" Verloop [State Dept. agent] wrote in July 2010. [TransCanada spokesperson] Elliott  said that she was "correct," but that any new application would include an environmental assessment. Cunha told The [LA] Times in a January interview that the company was leaving the door open to apply later for permission to operate the pipeline at 80% of the pressure it is designed for, as the company does in Canada, rather
than the 72% it has agreed to operate under, at least initially, in the U.S. -

2.  "We’ve learned that TransCanada testified to theCanadian National Energy Board that the pipeline is designed to raise crude prices in the Midwest states, which currently enjoy healthy supplies of Canadian heavy crude. According to petroleum economist Phil Verleger, this crude price rise will translate into higher gas and diesel prices, costing Midwest consumers and farmers $4 billion. Not only will the pipeline raise gas prices, but it will kill jobs, as businesses and consumers have less money for non-fuel expenditures. If this pipeline is approved, President Obama will be accused of raising gas prices and killing jobs. "
Pipeline Will Raise Gas Costs, Kill Jobs

3. "The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has logged 100 different incidents and accidents on federally regulated Canadian oil and gas pipelines over the past two years, new documents reveal. The log entries by investigators are dominated by two Albertabased companies, Enbridge and TransCanada, which are involved in nearly three quarters of the reported cases, including 21 incidents on the latter's new multibillion-dollar Keystone pipeline, which launched the first phase of its commercial operation in June 2010."

4. "In the recent Enbridge oil spill in Michigan, for example, benzene was a component of the diluent used to reduce the viscosity of the oil sands crude so that it could be transported through a pipeline. Benzene
is a volatile organic compound, and following the spill in Michigan, high benzene levels in the air prompted the issuance of voluntary evacuation notices to res idents in the area by the local county health department." --

EPA correspondence with Department of State, June 6, 2011

5. If the purpose of the Keystone XL is to provide the U.S. with "energy security," we should send the oil to refineries far from the sea. American interests say, keep tar sands oil landlocked. "When companies like Conoco or Valero say the pipeline will be good for energy security, what they really mean is it will be good for their supply of discounted heavy crude. It has nothing to do with real energy security for American citizens. " -