There are ten things you need to know about the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline proposal:
1. The pipeline is needed now to supply refineries that in turn provide the gasoline and diesel fuel required in the United States. About 40 percent of the U.S. refining infrastructure is located along the Gulf Coast. Historically, many of these refineries have been supplied by Venezuela or Mexico. Venezuelan oil is currently being redirected to China and dwindling supplies of Mexican oil are being retained for use in Mexico. The simple choice is to replace the oil from within North America—or from the Middle East. Keystone will provide a reliable, safe and long-term link to Canadian and U.S. supplies. Firm contracts for delivery of North American oil via the Keystone System are designed to replace contracts from other geographic suppliers that are expiring.
2. While we work to develop alternatives to fossil fuels, oil and natural gas remain the foundation of American energy policy. One misconception is that the United States will no longer need oil in a very short period of time, perhaps within five or 10 years. According to the estimates of our own government and third-party industry experts in the U.S., petroleum and natural gas will be required to supply more than half of all the energy consumed in America until at least 2035. Cutting off reliable supplies of crude oil before we have made the transition to alternative energy sources is neither responsible nor feasible. In short, we need the energy.
3. Twenty-five percent of Keystone XL capacity is expected to be used to deliver U.S. oil from Montana and the Dakotas to meet U.S. needs. Oil from the Bakken formation, the fastest-growing production region in the U.S., is constrained by pipeline bottlenecks. Keystone XL will create a new path to deliver this important source of domestic oil to markets. Keystone XL will provide market outlets for U.S. producers, protecting their jobs and ensuring their growth, while keeping U.S. consumers supplied with energy from nearby sources.
4. TransCanada is widely recognized as an organization with an effective commitment to sustainability. The company has been selected several years running to the “Global 100” and the “Dow Jones Sustainability Index.” These honors reflect TransCanada’s track record of responsibility and its commitment to the environment, communities and other stakeholders.
5. Pipelines are the safest means of delivering crude oil and bulk energy products. Like the airline or mining industries (among others), when our energy industry experiences a significant incident, such as a leak or spill, it generates due attention. However, leaks or spills, especially along the right of way, are rare. Due to our industry’s commitment to safety, spills along the right of way decreased from two incidents per thousand miles in 1999–2001 to 0.8 incidents per thousand miles in 2005–2007, a decline of 60 percent. The energy industry and its workers throughout the U.S. have a vested interest in protecting pipelines from spills and leaks in our communities.
6. Virtually every gallon of gasoline used in Nebraska travelled through a pipeline as crude oil and again as a refined product. More than 200,000 miles of pipeline owned and operated by a large number of companies and U.S. workers carry crude oil and other energy liquids throughout North America, in many different environments, including aquifers and other important natural resource areas. These pipelines have been supplying our energy needs for decades—and will continue to meet our needs for decades to come.
7. The routes of Keystone pipelines each minimize impacts by minimizing the length of pipe constructed. For pipelines, impacts on landowners and the environment and even the risk of a spill or leak is proportional to length. The first Keystone project makes use of 530 miles of existing pipeline across Canada, effectively shortening the project by moving the starting point from southeastern Alberta to Manitoba, very close to the U.S. border. Because no existing pipeline capacity is available for Keystone XL, it follows a more direct north-south route—the shortest possible distance between the points of supply and points of demand.
8. Pipelines and petroleum safely coexist with the Ogallala Aquifer today. There are currently almost 21,000 miles of pipelines crossing Nebraska, including almost 3,000 miles of crude oil or liquid pipelines. Many miles of these pipelines operate safely through the Ogallala Aquifer. In addition, oil wells have been drilled and are in production within areas overlying the Ogallala Aquifer, including in western Nebraska. While the risk of an oil release from this pipeline in an area where it could reach the aquifer is low, what this existing infrastructure and natural geology points out is that even if it does occur, the impact is localized and manageable.
9. While construction and remediation will be more challenging, pipelines regularly cross sand environments. TransCanada has more than 50 years’ experience in construction and operation of pipelines in many different environments, including sand hills. TransCanada will employ best practices to minimize impacts and successfully revegetate and restore lands and environments wherever it builds. TransCanada recognizes the unique challenges in this area and continues to consult with local experts such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Nebraska Department of Roads.
10. While improving national security by safely delivering a stable and secure source of energy, the Keystone XL Pipeline Project will employ hundreds of Nebraska construction workers, increase local economic activity and increase local tax revenues.