TransCanada says Keystone XL route is shortest, with least impact
New York (Platts)--18Jul2011/418 pm EDT/2018 GMT
TransCanada Monday defended the current route for its Keystone XL
pipeline project in response to an earlier call by seven US senators who want
the US State Department to consider new routes.
"The route we have chosen is the shortest route, which means the least
environmental impact and the fewest landowners impacted," TransCanada
spokesman Terry Cunha said in an email on Monday.
"Our focus was to reduce the overall footprint of the route by avoiding
environmental, engineering and economic impacts," Cunha said. "Route choices
also took into account potential impacts on wildlife, archaeological
resources, aboriginal settlements, crops and protected areas."
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The Keystone XL project, a 1,661-mile-long pipeline, would begin at
Hardisty, Alberta, then head to Saskatchewan, Montana, South Dakota and
Nebraska. It would then incorporate a portion of the existing Keystone
Pipeline through Nebraska and Kansas to serve markets at Cushing, Oklahoma,
before continuing through Oklahoma to a delivery point near existing
terminals along the Texas Gulf Coast. Capacity along the line will vary by
segment, from 500,000 b/d-700,000 b/d. The entire Keystone project would span
nine states. The bi-national pipeline needs a permit from the State
In a July 17 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the senators
asked that the State Department "more thoroughly analyze alternate routes for
Keystone XL that minimize the length of pipeline in the US and avoid the
fragile Sandhills region of the Ogallala Aquifer." The aquifer is one of the
world's largest, covering eight states.
The senators, all Democrats, are Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island,
Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Barbara Boxer of California, Ron Wyden of Oregon,
Robert Menenedez and Frank Lautenberg, both of New Jersey, and
Ben Cardin of Maryland.
Menendez spokesman Hal Connolly said in an email on Monday that "the
senator's interest [in Keystone] stems from his concerns about oil
exploration and transportation safety."
The senators said that state's supplemental draft environmental impact
statement, or SDEIS, fails to include analysis "specific to the environmental
impacts of diluted bitumen spills, or the safety risks associated with the
interaction of diluted bitumen with pipeline material."
They asked if the State Department intended to work with the Pipeline
and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to conduct a "scientific and
technical assessment of the safety risks specifically associated with diluted
The senators asked how the State Department intends to address safety
concerns raised by the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency "raised
concerns regarding the lack of information on the number and location of
mainline valves to isolate pipeline segments in the case of a spill, the
behavior of the class of crude oil in a spill, and the types of diluents that
will be used to reduce the viscosity of the bitumen and their potential
impact in a spill," the letter said, and then asked how State plans to
address EPA's concerns.
In his email, TransCanada's Cunha said the company has "worked with
PHMSA and voluntarily agreed to 57 new procedures to even greater confidence
regarding the operation and monitoring of this pipeline, including a higher
number of remotely controlled shutoff valves, increased pipeline inspections
and pipe that is buried deeper in the ground."
"The SDEIS further concluded that incorporation of the 57 PHMSA Special
Conditions 'would result in a Project that would have a degree of safety over
any other typically constructed domestic oil pipeline system under current
code,'" Cunha said.
A State Department spokeswoman said Monday the department had received
the senators' letter but she did not know if Clinton had read it.
Cunha cited a broad coalition in favor of the Keystone XL project,
including four trade associations, 24 US mayors, and 14 US senators.
--Leslie Moore Mira, email@example.com