Tuesday, April 23, 2013

EPA Sticks Its Nose in the Keystone Pipeline

With the State Department apparently having run out of excuses to delay the Keystone XL pipeline, the EPA put its finger in the crack in the dyke, claiming that the State Department should reconsider its failure to find fault:

EPA wants State Dept. to rework analysis of Keystone XL pipeline
The Environmental Protection Agency objected Monday to the State Department’s latest review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, suggesting that more work must be done before the Obama administration can determine whether to approve the 1,179-mile northern leg of the project.

The EPA recommended that State reassess the amount of greenhouse gas that would be emitted by the development of oil sands in Alberta, Canada, as a result of construction of the pipeline, which eventually could transport as much as 830,000 barrels of diluted bitumen crude to refineries in Texas.

Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator in the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, suggested the total gas released could be higher than State has estimated, depending on assumptions in the analysis.
Which, is of course, completely irrelevant. The Canadians are going to develop the oil. The only question is whether the oil gets sent down the pipeline to the Gulf Coast, where Americans will export it or turn it into gasoline and other products for everyone, or the Canadians will pipe it to the West Coast, where it will be loaded onto tankers and sent to China, where it will also be burned and become CO2.
She recommended that State acknowledge that large portions of the crude will sink if there is a spill into a waterway and spell out how it would require pipeline operator TransCanada to respond. She asked State to take another look at an alternative route for the proposed $5.3 billion pipeline, one that would take it away from the Ogallala aquifer, one of the world’s largest sources of fresh groundwater.
The pipeline route has already been changed once to accommodate these concerns, and the states involved are no longer worried about the consequences, and have approved the pipeline to cross their land.  A spill in water would be a bad thing, but not a horrible thing.  We had a few 140 throusand gallon spill into the Patuxent River back in 2001, and while you can still find oil in the marsh where the spill occurred, the biota in the area appear to be fully restored.
The EPA’s objection provides opponents with political ammunition and could force President Obama to weigh in on the permitting decision. Secretary of State John F. Kerry will decide whether the pipeline is in the U.S. national interest unless another federal agency objects. If the EPA continues to challenge State’s analysis, Obama will have to make the call...
Which, of course, was always the plan, to give Obama enough of a fig leaf to hide behind while he kills the pipeline, either by nixing it outright, or delay forever, allowing legal challenges to kill it slowly but surely with U.S. government approved litigation.

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