Rash of Oil Spills Puts New Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline on Hold

Rash of spills puts new tar sands oil pipeline on hold. U.S. State Department approval of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a massive project that would carry crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada all the way to southern Texas, has been delayed and observers say the spill of a million gallons into a Michigan waterway is likely one key reason why. AP reports: Yet final U.S. government approval for the massive project, once assumed to be on a fast track, is now delayed indefinitely, with little official explanation. The company had hoped to begin laying pipe by the end of the year, but those prospects have dimmed. Some experts conclude the negative publicity surrounding oil-related disasters, particularly the offshore BP leak that polluted the Gulf Coast for months, has made the Keystone XL pipeline a victim of guilt by association… In April, the State Department published a draft report giving the Keystone XL pipeline a favorable environmental score, but that was just days before the Gulf Oil spill hit. Other oil-related disasters followed, including Enbridge Inc.’s broken pipeline that spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. Some elected officials and federal agencies have expressed skepticism about the positive environmental findings. The Environmental Protection Agency called the State Department’s review inadequate, while the Department of Energy concluded Keystone XL couldn’t act as a safeguard against global price shocks. The oil spilled in Calhoun County in July is the same kind that will be carried by the Keystone pipeline, crude oil extracted from tar sands through a very energy-intensive and environmentally destructive process. Unlike regular light crude, tar sands crude requires massive amounts of water and energy to extract the oil from the surrounding rock matrix. As a result, tar sands crude is much higher in heavy metals than conventional crude and the extraction process results in much higher levels of greenhouse gasses being released. And as the Messenger previously reported, sending the thick crude by pipeline can drastically increase false pressure readings, making it nearly impossible to discern a real leak from the thousands of false positives coming from the pressure sensing equipment. ((18 OCT 2010))

http://michiganmessenger.com/42652/rash-of-spills-puts-new-tar-sands-oil-pipeline-on-hold

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