Keystone XL Pipeline Vote at PUC on February 18
Commissioners Expected to Approve Pipeline without Emergency Response Plan
WHAT: The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is scheduled to vote tomorrow (2-18-2010) on TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Family agriculture and environmental groups expect the Commissioners to approve the pipeline without having seen an emergency response plan or an Environmental Impact Statement. Commissioners are also expected to direct PUC staff to prepare an order listing conditions of approval.
WHEN: February 18 (2:30 pm CT)
WHERE: South Dakota Capitol Building, room 413
To listen live over the Internet to the PUC meeting, go to http://puc.sd.gov/ and click the Listen LIVE link at the top of the page.
Agenda for the PUC meeting: http://puc.sd.gov/agendas/2010/0218.aspx
The Keystone XL pipeline, also known as the Keystone Gulf Coast Expansion Project, involves the construction of a 1,980-mile, 36-inch diameter tar sands crude oil pipeline that would begin at Hardisty, Alberta and extend southeast through Saskatchewan, Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. It would incorporate a portion of the Keystone Pipeline and deliver tar sands crude to existing terminals in Nederland, Texas to serve the Port Arthur, Texas oil market, with a 50-mile spur supplying the Houston, Texas oil market.
TransCanada has asked the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to allow them to operate this pipeline at 80% of the maximum burst pressure instead of the standard 72% in areas of “low consequence” including much of Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. If PHMSA grants this request, TransCanada will be allowed to use cheaper, thinner pipe than they are required to use in more densely populated areas. This heightens concerns regarding threats to public health and property because of pipeline leaks, explosions and spills.
Each year there are over 150 incidents related to oil pipelines - with more than 6 million gallons of dangerous liquids spilling and leaking annually. Between 2002 and 2005 more than 50 pipeline incidents were serious enough to warrant public evacuations.
As of today there is no Environmental Impact Statement or emergency response plan for Keystone XL. Is it prudent for the SD PUC to permit this project under these circumstances?
It is reasonable and appropriate to question the business plan of the XL pipeline. Will this project remain profitable and viable? Is the PUC permitting a pipeline of questionable value and necessity?
Oil executive, Patrick Daniel, CEO of energy company, Enbridge Inc., has recently questioned the economic viability of Keystone XL, stating that the XL pipeline would create an over capacity in the pipeline system serving the Alberta tar sands area.
Stay tuned for your elected PUC's vote tomorrow....