TransCanada visited with community members in Eastern Montana to respond to questions and concerns with moving forward to construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Conservation organizations such as The Western Organization Of Resource Councils (WORC) have called for adustments to the Keystone XL pipeline, primarily process-oriented considerations, such as calling for transparency, cleanup and monitoring for potential contamination, agricultural productivity, taxpayer burden, pipeline safety and leak prevention.
WORC’s position notes “Put simply…surrounding lands must be put back the way they were before the spill, and we cannot afford another Yellowstone River oil spill.”
In August TransCanada officials toured the route the pipeline is slated to travel and met with community members in a series of open houses to respond to community concerns. One of the open houses was held in Glendive.
One of the issues underscruitiny is transparency. Robert Jones, Vice President of Keystone XL explained that there are some restrictions placed upon Keystone and all pipelines because of security issues. Public maps with exact location is one of those restrictions. The US Department of Homeland Security does not allow public mapping or GPS of pipeline locations. Oil is a powerful economic tool and is often the focus of violent actions overseas. In North America, it has been targeted by extremist conservation groups. In 2007, a federal court case revealed plans targeting the region. In 2008 a pipeline in the Alberta region was illegally equipped with an explosive device, and recently a man in Okalahoma targeted a pipeline there. In addition to minimizing the physical location of the Keystone XL, there are a number of other security precautions.
The newest pipeline pigs – those are essentially robotic labratories sent down a pipeline to check for integrity are more sensitive than ever before. New pigs are able to not only check for general corrosion, but can detect minute amounts, oil composition, and any iregularities in the system. Over the last four years the Montana congressional delegation has been vigilant in beefing up northern border patrol and that has resulted in the arrested of over 100 illegal aliens. Dawson County Sheriff Craig Anderson, also citing security concerns, could not go into specifics but he gave assurances that law enforcement capacity is in place to accommodate the pipeline. Finally, Jones said that that there is an advantage to this type of pipeline because it is underground. He says that when the pipeline is placed and the ground overhead is reclaimed that itO should be nearly undetectable that a pipeline is there.
One of the issues Jones addressed head-on is underwater pipeline safety. He re-iterated the depth pipe will be placed – 40 feet below the riverbed – which is deeper than required now or in proposals for all pipelines to prevent an incident similar to the July Yellowstone County incident.
Jones also addressed the Texas expansion open season of the Keystone XL announced earlier this week, explaining that it will expand the economic potential for oil from Montana wells. “Essentially,” he said, “I’m in the trucking business. I take raw product, oil, and move it to a manufacturer. I just do it more efficiently without using the roads or trucks.” The expansion means that those shippers who are putting oil from Montana wells into the pipeline at the planned Baker onramp will now have several choices of refineries instead of just one to choose from so they can get the best price for Montana oil.
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has issued for public review the final environmental impact statement (final EIS) for the Keystone XL Project. The Notice of Availability of the final EIS will be published in the Federal Register on September 2, 2011.
Following the release of the final EIS for the proposed Project, Executive Order 13337 calls on the Secretary of State, or her designee, to determine if issuance of a permit to the applicant would serve the national interest. DOS will consider a wide range of factors, including environmental, economic, energy security, foreign policy, and pipeline safety concerns, in making its decision on the application. As part of the review and analysis of the national interest, DOS will hold a series of public meetings to solicit comments on the subject. One meeting will be held in for the MonDak area, in Glendive, on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at Dawson Community College from 4:30-10pm.
DOS will also accept written comments beginning on the date the final EIS is issued (August 26, 2011). In order to ensure that comments are processed and considered before the decision is made on the permit application, all comments must be submitted by midnight on October 9, 2011 (Eastern Time).
Additionally, Comments can be submitted by the following methods:
DOS Comments Page: Make a Comment
E-mail at: [email protected];
USPS mail at: Keystone XL Project NID, P.O. Box 96503-98500, Washington, D.C. 20090-6503; or
FAX at: 206-269-0098
As noted above, in order for comments to be considered they must be submitted by midnight on October 9, 2011