The Keystone XL Pipeline: Facts and Fairytales
It is surprising how many articles regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline are so misleading with much of the mainstream media blatantly disregarding the facts surrounding the project. Perhaps not too surprising as TransCanada, the Calgary, Alberta based energy company building the Keystone XL Pipeline,
"TransCanada Pipelines has a culture of non-compliance and deeply entrenched business practices that ignore the legally required regulation and codes. The mix of political and commercial interests allows industry to claim they exceed federal requirements when they are building substandard pipelines with no enforcement or accountability in the process."
– Evan Vokes, Whistleblower / Former engineer and pipeline inspector for TransCanada
has made a concerted effort to create a campaign of factual distortions, coercion, and fraud in its single minded trek towards enormous profits, its website created specifically to address their pipeline being a "spin" masterpiece.
Disgusting, although not surprising either, is how many politicians have willingly picked up the company’s lies and continued to expand the public’s ignorance. It’s time for this country to put aside the fantasy. Fairy tales are fine so long as one doesn’t believe in them.
The Keystone Pipeline System is composed of several sections. The Keystone Pipeline (Phase 1) and the Keystone-Cushing Extension (Phase 2) are already in place and operational. The Keystone XL Pipeline would be composed of two new segments: one extending the pipeline from Cushing, OK to Port Arthur and Houston, TX (renamed the “Gulf Coast Project” due to negative media attention and operational as of January 22, 2014) and the other traversing the upper Midwest from Steele City, NE, eventually crossing the border into Canada.
TransCanada wants to build the Keystone XL Pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta through the center of America rather than to Canada’s west coast simply because it would be easier for them. Although the distance to its west coast is shorter, that route is plagued with a multitude of problems as it would cross the land of dozens of Native American tribes who are vehemently opposed to it. But the Keystone XL Pipeline’s route through America will directly affect a fairly large portion of the United States, and it is critical that the citizens of this country separate the facts from the fiction before it is allowed to do so.
All the necessary environmental studies regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline have been completed and approved. What is the hold up?
FACT • However . . .
Drafts for the Initial environmental studies were being released as early as mid-2010 by State Department staffers eager to rubber stamp the project and push it through without conducting thorough reviews. They may have accomplished this had the BP oil spill and then leaks in Keystone Pipeline (Phase 1) not occurred. Once these failures happened, the Keystone XL Pipeline became the center of a storm of controversy. Under this scrutiny, it was revealed that the initial studies should be deemed inadmissible for numerous reasons including: inexperienced and unqualified staffers were held responsible for gathering data, study requirements did not include the environmental scope necessary and that one staff member had questionable ties to TransCanada itself. 
The most recent and supposed final report from the State Department has proven to be no more viable than the previous attempts. Released January 31, 2014, the report downplays the environmental risks involved in the project and, considering the circumstances, this should come as no surprise. TransCanada itself recommended the firm Environmental Resources Management (ERM) as the consultant to review the State’s report and paid ERM for that assessment – a blatant conflict of interest essentially rendering ERM’s report a moot point.  The Office of the Inspector General’s review of the matter concluded that while ERM did follow the guidelines required for the contractor selection process, those guidelines “could be improved” – in other words, until those guidelines are changed, dirty deals will remain business as usual. Attention has now been turned to the Government Accountability Office which will begin its own review of ERM’s environmental report.
The Keystone XL Pipeline will bring a $7 billion dollar project to the U.S.
FAIRY TALE • $7 billion dollars may be the total budget number for this project but only a portion of this figure will ever reach the U.S. Part of this budget has already been spent on the first two phases of the Keystone Pipeline and on Canada’s side of the border and only $3 to $4 billion will be spent in the U.S. on the last two segments. [1,2]
The Keystone XL Pipeline will create tens if not hundreds of thousands of jobs.
FAIRY TALE • Although politicians cannot seem to stop endlessly repeating this lie. And assuming TransCanada believes its own website, neither can the company itself.
■ The author lives near a small town that was directly impacted by the southern leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The small number of transient “pipeliners” who temporarily moved to town in no way supports TransCanada’s fantastical proposed job numbers. There were maybe two hundred of these workers in town for perhaps six months. As soon as they finished with the nearby section, they left to follow the pipeline as it was built southward.
According to the State Department, the Keystone XL will create approximately 2,500 to 4,650 temporary jobs during construction. This data comes directly from TransCanada itself. Additional data, also from TransCanada, states that there will only be “hundreds” of permanent jobs produced, not thousands.  Unfortunately, a study done by the State Department in March 2013 found that not even that will be true. The study revealed that it expects the project to create a whopping 35 permanent jobs and 15 temporary jobs upon completion. 
The project does not even produce a large number of spin-off jobs (employment created around the construction of the Pipeline such as truck drivers, etc.) although figures as high as 500,000 have been promised. These incorrect and highly inflated numbers are believed to have been extrapolated from a report, also paid for by TransCanada, that stated that the Pipeline would create over 119,000 “person-years” of work. A person-year is the amount of work that would keep a person employed for one year – which does not translate into 119,000 “jobs”. [1,2]
The Keystone XL Pipeline will actually kill more jobs than it will create.
FACT • A study completed by the Cornell University’s world-renowned Global Labor Institute (GLI), the only independent study done on this project, determined that the Keystone XL Pipeline will not only create less jobs than TransCanada claims, but also actually destroy jobs in the following ways:
- A rise in fuel prices in the Midwest will cancel the positive effect of the few jobs actually created by the pipeline. This increase in prices will affect families and the agriculture and transportation industries. 
- The oil spills that will invariably happen may create some temporary clean up jobs but they will be outweighed by the direct loss of many more existing permanent ones.  It is estimated that job losses from the BP oil spill range from the tens of thousands to possibly one million over the next five years. 
- The diversion of moneys into the Keystone XL Pipeline will prevent that investment from forwarding the green economy which has already created 2.7 million jobs. Long term, the move to more environmentally sustainable energies will create tens if not hundreds of thousands of additional new jobs. 
The Keystone XL Pipeline will raise the cost of gas for people in the Midwest.
FACT • Oil that is currently being held in Midwest refineries will be diverted by the pipeline to be sold for a higher profit overseas. The reduction in supply could increase the cost of gasoline per gallon 10 to 20 cents in this region, 15 states to be exact.  Other sources claim this increase could be as high as 20 to 40 cents per gallon. 
The steel pipes needed for the Keystone XL Pipeline will be produced in the United States and are an example of a spin-off job created by the project.
FAIRY TALE • Based upon the construction of the previous phases of the pipeline by TransCanada, half if not more of the steel and pipe to be used in the Keystone XL Pipeline will be imported from the Indian company, Welspun Corp Limited, and the Russian company, Evraz, which has mills in Canada. Only the final processing for a portion of this pipe will be done at Welspun’s Arkansas plant. Instead of giving the ailing steel industry here in the United States a boost, it is cheaper for TransCanada to buy foreign made.
The Keystone XL Pipeline will give our country the energy security we need.
FAIRY TALE • But another favorite talking point of both politicians and TransCanada. This project’s primary goal is to move Canada’s crude oil reserves to U.S. refineries where it will be converted into petroleum products. These products will then be transported to Texas ports and then ultimately sold, not to America, but to foreign markets - for huge profits. According to the New York Times article, “Say No to the Keystone XL,”
“What pipeline advocates . . . fail to mention is that much of the tar sands oil that would be refined on the Gulf Coast is destined for export. Six companies have already contracted for three-quarters of the oil. Five are foreign, and the business model of the one American company – Valero – is geared toward export." 
There are already numerous pipelines crisscrossing America, one more isn’t going to hurt. The Keystone Pipeline System is a safe method of transporting oil.
FAIRY TALE • This is according to TransCanada. The reality is a very different:
- The Phase 1 portion of the Keystone Pipeline System was touted by TransCanada as meeting or exceeding “world-class safety and environmental standards” and projected to have less than two spills in a decade. 14 leaks occurred in the United States within its first year of operation, at one point forcing federal pipeline regulators to shut it down - making it the newest pipeline in U.S. history to receive such an order. While a majority of the leaks were small, one of those leaks in North Dakota was a 60-foot geyser.  A leaking oil pipeline is bad for the environment wherever it is located but the Keystone XL Pipeline is to be routed across the world’s largest fresh water aquifer, the Ogallala Aquifer, that supplies 30% of the groundwater used for irrigation and 82% of the drinking water used by millions of people living within its boundaries. Since there are places where this aquifer runs fairly close to the surface, even the potential for leaks is unacceptable. 
"TransCanada keeps insisting the Keystone XL pipeline will be the safest pipeline ever built despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary. In fact they are building the southern portion of the Keystone XL to the lowest permissible standards, just as they have the Keystone 1 . . . "
– Evan Vokes, Whistleblower / Former engineer and pipeline inspector for TransCanada
- As at least half if not more of the steel pipe produced for the project will come from foreign countries, there will be no oversight of the quality of its production. TransCanada glibly hands all responsibility for meeting relevant regulations, codes and specifications to these companies. Welspun, has a track record of and has been sued for producing substandard products. The reason for the aforementioned 14 spills was poor quality piping from this particular company. 
- The pipe to be used in the Pipeline is labeled “Tested 1910 PSI”. Unfortunately, according to TransCanada’s own documents, the diluted bitumen (dilbit) will be forced through the pipes at 2200 PSI – quite an obvious problem they’re apparently choosing to ignore. 
"The United States is getting a substandard product, one with an undisclosed number of replacement parts, not a pipeline that exceeds safety standards, despite TransCanada’s repeated claims. Think of it like this: if you bought a new luxury car and it had to go back under warranty because of several major drivetrain problems but they repaired it with used parts, would you have the best car or would you just have a lemon?"
– Evan Vokes, Whistleblower / Former engineer and pipeline inspector for TransCanada
- The oil to be transported through the Pipeline will not be your typical unprocessed crude oil. It will be a heavy, tar-like sludge called “bitumen”. For the bitumen to be moved through the pipes, TransCanada will have to dilute it with chemicals (that are particularly corrosive to steel) and then force the mixture through the pipes under high pressure. Worse, TransCanada views these chemicals as company trade secrets and refuses to make them public knowledge. When a spill occurs, and it is not ‘if’, it is ‘when’, the EPA’s crew will be facing the cleanup of unknown toxic compounds. 
- Evan Vokes, while a pipeline inspector for TransCanada, filed numerous complaints with his employer regarding code violations and subpar construction he witnessed out in the field. After being ignored, Vokes finally turned whistleblower and filed a complaint with federal regulators. His complaints were still ignored and he was promptly fired. He continues to investigate TransCanada’s pipelines and his most recent investigation into the construction of the Texas leg of the Keystone XL has revealed that TransCanada has no intention of changing its ways. 
- Instead of adopting the newest technology to detect pipeline leaks (infrared sensors or fiber-optic cables), TransCanada decided to cut costs and rely on more outdated software-based systems. 
Not that TransCanada will be overly concerned if their pipelines do leak. The government requires pipelines to pay into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund so that taxpayers will not have to pay for spill cleanup. However, TransCanada knows full well of the loophole that exempts pipelines carrying “unconventional” oil (the Keystone XL’s dilbit) from paying into this fund. So while TransCanada’s website claims that they, not landowners, are 100 percent responsible for cleaning up a pipeline leak (which is true), they conveniently neglect to state that it will be the American taxpayers footing the bill for them to mop up their own messes.
America Does Not Need Even One More Pipeline
The above video is an analysis done by Richard Stover, Pd.D. of the Center for Biological Diversity from data compiled by the government's own Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The data shown reflects only incidents classified as "significant" meaning incidents in which a person was hospitalized or killed, that incurred over $50,000.00 worth of damages, more than five barrels of a highly volatile substances or 50 barrels of another chemical leaked or the chemical exploded or burned. 
Oil extraction from tar sands is a more expensive and destructive process than the standard process used to obtain regular crude oil.
FACT • The process of producing fuel from tar sands was once considered too expensive as it requires the extraction of oil from the sand in which it was created versus typical drilling methods. This process, which entails surface mining, also referred to as strip mining, destroys vast amounts of untouched wilderness and requires enormous amounts of energy and water. The byproducts are massive strip mines and vast toxic tailings “ponds”, so large they can be seen from space.
Although the actual mining for the oil that will eventually travel through the Keystone XL Pipeline is not occurring on the U.S. side of the border, it does not excuse this country from participating in the environmental depravity TransCanada is reaping on Canada. It is difficult to put into words the utter devastation this type of oil extraction inflicts upon our natural world. Garth Lenz is a photographer who has visited the Athabasca oil sands of Alberta:
“I had photographed industrial devastation all over, including some of the most massive clear-cuts on the planet, right in British Columbia and in Chile and Patagonia, so I’d seen that massive industrialization of the landscape on a huge, huge scale. But I was completely unprepared for what I found. Because this is just completely off-the-grid crazy—the scale is unbelievable.” 
It is in the nation’s best interest to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.
FAIRY TALE • However, the Keystone XL Pipeline is very much in the best interest of the politicians supporting it. John Boehner, Speaker of the House, has not only received campaign funds from the six oil companies and one electric company directly involved with the Keystone XL Pipeline but also began investing in them in 2009 as the project began ramping up. And he is hardly the only politician in this position. 
The Keystone XL Pipeline is wrong in practically every way imaginable. A few workers and a handful of politicians will benefit, millions of Americans will assume enormous risk and the foreign oil companies involved will make obscene profits. When stacked against the incredible drawbacks, it’s just not worth it.
TransCanada's Lies Exposed
The View on the Other Side of the Border
 Skinner, Ph.D., Lara / Sweeney, Ph.D., Sean. “Pipe Dreams? Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost by the Construction of Keystone XL.” Cornell University Global Labor Institute. September 2011 (Updated January 2012).
 Zeller Jr., Tom. “Keystone XL Oil Pipleline: A Symbolic Struggle Steeped in Fuzzy Math.” Huffington Post. 4 November 2011 (Updated 4 January 2012).
 “Say No to the Keystone XL.” New York Times on the Web. 2 October 2011.
 Stover, Ph.D., Richard. "America's Dangerous Pipelines." Center for Biological Diversity.
 Symons, Jeremy. “Tar Sands Oil: New Pipeline Routes, Same Dangers.” Huffington Post. 18 November 2011.
 Hersh, Joshua. “Keystone XL: Haste and Inexperience Hampered State Department’s Environmental Review.” Huffington Post. 3 November 2011.
 “The Speaker's Pipe Dreams: Big Oil Investments Muddy Boehner's Message On Keystone XL.” Political Correction. 18 January 2012.
 “Athabasca Oil Sands in All Their Terrible Glory.” Indian Country Today media Network.com. 23 September 2011.
 McCarthy, Ryan. “Gulf Oil Spill Job Losses Could Total 1 MILLION Over Next 5 Years: David Kotok”. Huffington Post. 21 June 2010 (Updated 25 May 2011)
 Redmayne-Titley, Brett. “Buried Truth - Uncovering the Keystone XL Pipeline (Part Two)”. Acronym TV. March 2013.
 Wieners, Brad. “Did the State Department Fail Obama on Keystone XL?”. Bloomberg Businessweek. 26 February 2014.
 Saldana, Dave. “Keystone PipeLIES Exposed: The Facts on Phantom Jobs, Phony Gas Prices and Missing Revenue”. truth-out.org. 28 February 2014.
 Dermansky, Julie. “TransCanada Whistleblower Evan Vokes Details Lack of Confidence in Keystone XL”. truth-out.org. 30 September 2013.
 Penty, Rebecca / Lee, Mike. “Keystone XL Pipe Shuns Infrared Sensors to Detect Leaks”. Businessweek. 18 Junes 2013
© 2012 Gemini Fox
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