To the Editor:
Responding to Mr. Gullan’s “comments on pipeline stall,” I’d like to add some facts in rebuttal that were deliberately overlooked or intentionally misstated. The Keystone Pipeline is a four-phase project. First started in 2008, three phases of the project are in operation, and the fourth is awaiting U.S. government approval.
Currently the pipeline delivers oil from Hardisty, Alberta to Manitoba to Steele City, Neb., and then on to Wood River, and Patoka, Ill. The Keystone-Cushing extension goes from Steele City to storage and distribution facilities at Cushing, Okla. Phase III, the Gulf Coast Extension, from Cushing to the Houston, Texas and Port Arthur, La. refineries, was opened in January 2014. The controversial Phase IV, the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, would begin in Hardisty, Alberta, and extend to Steele City, essentially replacing the existing Phase I pipeline.
Consider the following:
• TransCanada (a Canadian Company) owns the pipeline. States are using Eminent Domain procedures to take away farmers’ land to enrich a foreign company. TransCanada refused to support a requirement that oil on Keystone XL be used in the United States in a recent Congressional hearing.
• Why not build the Keystone XL alongside the existing Manitoba to Wood River pipeline and avoid this mess? No environmental studies needed, no Eminent Domain procedures and existing U.S Canada border agreements are in place. Canadian regulators asked the same question – why another pipeline when there was already so much spare capacity? TransCanada said that by avoiding the Midwest refineries and transporting the crude to the Gulf refineries, they would realize increased revenue from exports.
• The U.S. State Department estimates that 42,100 temporary jobs would be added during the two-year pipeline construction, but that only 50 workers would be required to operate the pipeline. (For historical comparison see the promised “pipe dream” jobs created by the Alaska Pipeline).
• TransCanada studies predict the Keystone XL Pipeline would divert large volumes of Canadian oil from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast, where it would be available for the first time to buyers on the world market. The problem with existing pipelines is they all end in the U.S. Midwest and only allow one buyer – the United States. By draining Midwestern refineries of cheap Canadian crude into refineries on the Gulf Coast, Keystone XL will increase the cost of gas for Americans on average 20 cents per gallon. Plus, jobs would be lost at the Midwest refineries.
• Gulf Coast refiners will refine the Canadian crude supplied by the pipeline into products for export to Europe and Latin America. Many of these refineries are in Foreign Trade Zones where oil may be refined and exported to international buyers without paying U.S. taxes. The idea that Keystone XL will improve U.S. oil supply is a falsehood because the fuel refined from the pipeline will never reach U.S. drivers’ tanks.
• Administration opposition to fracking and drilling on public lands is a myth. Over the years the amount of federal acres successfully producing oil or gas has overall grown at a steady rate, with 12.5 million producing acres or approximately 12 percent of federal land set aside for oil and gas in 2012. Recent statistics state that about 11.3 million acres of federal land are being fracked and four million acres are under exploration.
So let me get this straight – a foreign company wants to take away U.S. farmland under eminent domain to build a pipeline (endangering a critical aquifer) that could easily be built along an existing pipeline. The sole purpose of this proposed pipeline is to circumvent refineries that sell oil to the U.S. market so as to make available this oil to “Foreign Trade Zone” gulf refineries (that will pay no taxes) and this foreign company can increase its revenue. Oh and by the way any realization of jobs will be temporary and refinery jobs gained at the gulf coast will be lost in Illinois. Hell, what’s not to like about this deal.