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Saturday, May 16, 2009

TransCanada Keystone Pipeline: Good for Indian Steel

TransCanada likes to say that its pipelines to carry tar sands oil to American refiners will be good for South Dakota and good for America.

Of course, that doesn't mean the pipelines are good for American steelworkers. TransCanada could have contracted with American steel mills to produce the steel for its pipes right here and improve the economic impact. Instead, U.S. Steel's Granite City Works sits idle, with 2,000 hard-working Americans laid off, while TransCanada imports bargain steel from India.

Good for America: right. No foreign corporation is interested in doing what's good for America or for anyone else other than itself. TransCanada can take the low road if it wants... but they can at least spare us the bull, and we can do ourselves the favor of not falling for their faux-patriotic marketing.

Update 2009.05.17 07:20 CDT: See the "Made in India" stamp and read more at the New York Times. Turns out TransCanada is buying some U.S. steel for Keystone I—30% American, 23% Canadian, 47% Indian. Let's see that U.S. percentage go up for Keystone II. Note also that the United Steelworkers complaint about Indian pipe is about not just jobs but safety: USW filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation saying the pipe TransCanada is using is too thin:

Tellingly, TransCanada recognizes that using thinner pipe could well cause damage and harm due to ruptures, leaks and spills because it has not requested a special permit for using thinner pipe for pump stations, road and railroad crossings and in non-rural areas. Clearly, TransCanada has made a business judgment that rural and agricultural areas need not receive the same level of protection required by law than other areas in the Uinted States. This glaring disaprity in protection, however, is not allowed under U.S. law, including under the Administrative Procedure Act (5. U.S.C.A. section 551 et seq.).[Thomas M. Conway, Vice-President, United Steel Workers, formal complaint to U.S. Department of Transportation, 2009.04.06].

Sounds like the big labor union is looking out for South Dakota more than Big Oil is.


  1. Indian steel from old ships torn down by workers living in poverty and dealing with heavy pollution? Environmental protection in India means protecting the rich environment of the richest people from the squalor of the poorest...big fences, big guns, big houses, big bank accounts, big egos, big cars, big...big...big at the small expense of the little people.

  2. At the April Keystone XL hearings, VP Robert Jones said they would use American steel this time. Claimed there wasn't capacity in the U.S. to do that for Keystone I. Said there is now.

    As with all giant industrial projects, best to take this with a very large grain of salt. Lots of things get said to get state approvals for these kinds of projects that don't necessarily come true.

  3. An anonymous commenter sends me some really good numbers on the steel bidding process. Alas, Anon provides no verifiable identity, so the comment is deleted. If "jcmillar" would like to resubmit with a verifiable identity (and maybe some links to back up the data?), I'll be happy to publish that information.


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