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Leclerc writes: "With a nonviolent direct action camp that started July 27, 2012 in East Texas, grassroots opponents are working on a construction project of their own: Tar Sands Blockade, a coalition of landowners, community members, students, and others dedicated to stopping the pipeline through direct action."

A mock oil pipeline is carried during a Keystone XL tar-sands oil pipeline demonstration near the White House, 11/06/11. (photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
A mock oil pipeline is carried during a Keystone XL tar-sands oil pipeline demonstration near the White House, 11/06/11. (photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Blockade Aims to Stop Southern Keystone XL Pipeline

By Christine Leclerc,

11 August 12


ust when it seemed that the Keystone XL pipeline was on hold, TransCanada Corp. segments the project and the U.S. government fast tracks the environmental review process. This allows TransCanada to begin construction on the southern part of the Keystone XL this summer.

With a non-violent direct action camp that starts today in East Texas, grassroots opposition is working on a construction project of its own: Tar Sands Blockade.

Building in Segments, Trying to Get Around Pipeline Opposition

The Keystone XL pipeline was originally proposed as a single pipeline that went from Alberta to Texas. However, in February, TransCanada announced that the southern part of the Keystone XL had become a separate, Gulf Coast Project, pipeline.

TransCanada spokesperson David Dodson characterizes the Gulf Coast pipeline as important for the energy security of the United States. According to Dodson, domestic "producers do not have access to enough pipeline capacity to move the production to the large refining market along the U.S. Gulf Coast."

In March, U.S. President Barack Obama expedited the review process for pipelines going from Oklahoma to Texas. "In part due to rising domestic production, more oil is flowing in than can flow out, creating a bottleneck that is dampening incentives for new production while restricting oil from reaching state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast," reads the president's March 22 memo. In an 86-word sentence, the president goes on to explain that all agencies are to "coordinate and expedite their reviews, consultations, and other processes as necessary to expedite decisions related to domestic pipeline infrastructure projects."

Following the President's order to expedite the review process, the Sierra Club, Oklahoma and Texas landowners and the Texas communities of Reklaw, Gallatin and Alto filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which issues water permits.

According to USACE, TransCanada requested "multiple Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 verifications for work in waters and wetlands related to the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project" from the Galveston, Tulsa and Fort Worth Districts.

Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson Ron Seifert explained that the President was under no obligation to come forward and expedite the Gulf Coast Project review process. From his perspective: "The President expedited the project not because he had to, but because he wanted to show support for our oil and gas industry. It wasn't mandated by any laws. But in doing so our Environmental Protection Agency was persuaded to stand down and the result is that the more thorough water crossing investigations and hearings along the pipeline route are basically bypassed."

USACE names environmental sustainability as a guiding principle.

A Lesson From Enbridge

Another organization that highlights its interest in sustainability is Enbridge Inc. The company joined forces with the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business on March 27, 2012 to unveil the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability.

But the name Enbridge is more likely to evoke images of its 2010 oil spill disaster - the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history - these days.

In its July 25 report on the Enbridge oil spill disaster, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) twice recommends that Enbridge:

"Require operators of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines and hazardous liquid pipelines to provide system-specific information about their pipeline systems to the emergency response agencies of the communities and jurisdictions in which those pipelines are located. This information should include pipe diameter, operating pressure, product transported, and potential impact radius."

Seifert from Tar Sands Blockade indicated that TransCanada has not disclosed the pipeline contents to landowners. Seifert expressed concern about what is used to dilute bitumen in a phone interview from Texas. This is necessary because bitumen in itself is too thick to flow through pipelines. And there is fear that dilbit will come through the Gulf Coast Project if the northern part of the Keystone XL is built.

Referring to the NTSB report, Seifert says: "Enbridge increased their pipeline pressure on several occasions leading up to the accident. They did that because they were getting false readings from gas bubbles in their pipe. So that's an endemic flaw of tar sands dilbit because they mix and dilute tar sands with this natural gas condensate, which creates gas pockets and creates false pressure readings."

Council of Canadians Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner Maryam Adrangi concurs with Seifert's observation about the pipeline industry's lack of transparency. "They talk a lot about hypothetical [pipeline] routes lately. You think in the back of your mind, these companies have to have an idea of where they want to putting these projects. There's just a general lack of transparency when it comes down to it," said Adrangi in a phone interview from Vancouver.

According to TransCanada's David Dodson, the southern part of the Keystone XL pipeline will carry heavy crude oil.

TransCanada in Canada

Amid a flurry of recent Northern B.C. development proposals, which includes Enbridge's fiercely opposed Northern Gateway proposal, TransCanada recently announced that it had won a $4 billion contract to build the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline for Shell.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline would be a 700 kilometre LNG pipeline designed to deliver natural gas from near Dawson Creek to LNG Canada's proposed liquefied natural gas facility near Kitimat.

The route would be similar to the one proposed for Northern Gateway, but this pipeline is of the post C-38 generation. UBS Securities analyst Chad Friess expects Coastal GasLink to have an easier time than the Enbridge proposal. It's "subject to the accelerated regulatory review," says Friess in an interview with Reuters.

Whether TransCanada's Coastal GasLink will be as fiercely opposed as Enbridge's Northern Gateway is yet to be seen. In this, the Harper government's agenda seems to be the one thing that is predictable. Adrangi notes that "we talk about the mining industry, tar sands or LNG pipelines, but a lot of them are connected to how [Prime Minister] Harper thinks. This guy really pushes the export agenda and makes it all about natural resources." your social media marketing partner


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+19 # michellewey 2012-08-11 21:50
I have been seeing an ad on Google ad choices when I read blogger sites. The ad says, "Tax-free Investing" and then says "Invest in Oil and Natural Gas Wells". I click on it and it brings me to the website
who boast of expertise in their field since 2004. Really? 8 years in business makes them experts? But my question is, why is investing in "petroleum and natural gas exploration and extraction technology to the development of onshore oil and natural gas projects" permitted as a tax free investment. Or am I being naive?
The point is, there are so many powerful forces at work to allow the destruction of our planet in the name of short term profits for a few. The political pressures to allow the pipeline are overwhelming. They have to force it through without proper review. The inherent risks involved are sure to fail to pass environmental safety standards. I sign a lot of petitions, I try to live my life as an example, and still I feel helpless to stem the tide of environmental degradation that will soon render our planet uninhabitable.
+6 # X Dane 2012-08-12 12:28
objectiveobserv er 1

I totally agree with you. And I CAN NOT understand that intelligent republicans...t hey do exist...go along with the insanity of that horrible tar sands project. The tar sands needs to stay in the ground. It will destroy the world.

Like you, I also sign petitions, and try to live right and save our resources.
All the erratic heatwaves, wild fires, destruction of our corn fields, should be a serious warning. When will they understand??

Rascalndear put his finger on it, I am afraid: THE INDIFFERENCE of too many people, who can not be bothered to pay attention.....u ntil the disaster wakes them up....TOO late.....and then they are furious that nobody has DONE anything???
+8 # angelfish 2012-08-12 00:08
Fossil fuels are a FINITE commodity. WHY won't they expend a little effort looking for ALTERNATIVES to them since they have such TOXIC and deadly consequences for the Planet and Humanity? All the money they spend pushing for more and more Coal, Gas and Oil could be much better spent trying to develop CLEANER, CHEAPER energy. The problem is that all the Big Billionaire Businessmen like the Koch brothers, Bush I and II and so many of their cronies will cease raking in their outrageous profits because Sun and Wind, so far, remain FREE and belong to us ALL. If we DO come up with any cheaper alternatives, I'm sure that they'll find a way to make us all pay and Pay and PAY. Never, EVER Vote ReTHUGlican!
+3 # soularddave 2012-08-12 17:41
Quoting angelfish:
WHY won't they expend a little effort looking for ALTERNATIVES

The Rethuglicans are the opposite as us. They expend their efforts trying to keep alternatives "in the ground". I suspect that they're just trying to stifle the competition so they can maintain profit levels. Indeed, and energy needs rise and resources dwindle, their profit margins will creep up with prices.
+12 # giraffee2012 2012-08-12 01:10
The keystone pipeline should not even be an issue - evil OIL pigs. And now the fracking is making the people in the Rockie Mts sick. WHEN will the pigs have enough $$$ to stop? Don't answer - just vote straight Dem -- GO OBAMA.

Romney is as evil as any past presidential candidate and Ryan is psychotic. His "I'm a family man" act seen on TV today is so phoney. He wants to eat the middle/lower class - with salt & pepper!

Florida has lots of older folks - and they know their social security / medicare should be there for their children/g'kids - so FL: Are you voting Obama? or let you children live like paupers?
+13 # Rascalndear 2012-08-12 02:08
The most powerful force on the planet working for its destruction is the indifference of ordinary people for whom cheapness and convenience are the real gods in life. And it's always easier to divide and conquer a large, loose and apathetic group than a small, closely-knit and active one!
+5 # mdhome 2012-08-12 07:44
Why build the pipeline anyway, refine the stuff right there where they take it out of the ground, ship the gas, diesel, heating oil by train OR better yet, spend money to develop wind/solar power.
+6 # X Dane 2012-08-12 12:33

You are right the pipeline should not be built.
But the "stuff" should not be refined...ANYWH ERE....It should STAY IN THE GROUND. IT IS POISON FOR THE PLANET
0 # AMLLLLL 2012-08-14 12:02
It takes 4 times the amount of fresh water to refine this sludge, not to mention the chemicals to process it.Where do they put the waste? It's all toxic, even if they refine it on site.

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