Keystone pipeline On President Trump’s fourth full day in office, he signed two presidential memoranda that resurrected oil pipelines everyone thought were dead. Trump: This is with respect to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, Dakota Access Pipeline. These pipelines are concerning for states, landowners, and tribal nations worried about construction and dangerous spills and for environmental groups who want the US to move away from fossil resources. The Keystone XL pipeline is intended to carry crude oil for 1,200 miles from Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, and connect to an existing segment that ends on the gulf coast. And the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, is a $3.8 billion dollar pipeline stretching1, 100 miles from North Dakota to Illinois.
It ignited a massive protest movement that started at Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, which happens to be right next to where the pipeline would cross the Missouri River. The Obama administration had paused both’ Keystone XL in 2015, and the Dakota Access Pipeline more recently in late 2016. Trump’s memoranda directed the agencies in charge of approving each pipeline to speed them through the review process. That’s a problem because there were a lot of reasons people wanted these pipelines tube gone for good. Some of those reasons have to do with the pipelines’ routes. With Keystone, construction would need to cross the Ogallala aquifer. Which stretches beneath Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico?
Some News About Keystone XL
The aquifer’s water is used for both drinking and irrigation. So if it were contaminated, by, say, a pipeline spill, it could be devastating to peoples ‘health and nearby agriculture. While pipelines are statistically safer than transport by train, or truck, they are still prone to breaking. And, when they do spill, they spilled about three times more volume than trains. Recently, a Canadian pipeline spilled 200,000 liters of oil and days later, there was another even larger spill in Iowa Despite these risks, pipeline companies continue to claim that they’re good for the economy. TransCanada, the company in charge of Keystone XL, promised it would “create thousands of much-needed jobs for Americans.”Trump echoed that claim when he signed the memorandum: Trump: “If they like we will see if we can get that pipeline built a lot of jobs, 28,000jobs, great construction jobs. But those big numbers are misleading.
Sure, Obama’s State Department calculated that Keystone XL might create 40,000 or more jobs, but they would only be temporary construction gigs. Over the long term, it would only create about 50 permanent jobs in the US. Mark Bateau: Well, I think this is going to be full employment for lawyers because think we’re going to see all of these things contested in the courts. So, the war is not over, but I’m afraid it’s going to be a much more guerrilla war in the courts on some of these. Already being challenged in the courts: the Dakota Access Pipeline. Construction on the pipeline is almost complete except for the final, most contentious stretch. To finish it, the pipeline operator, Energy Transfer Partners, needs to drill beneath Lake Oahu on the Missouri river. And for that, it needs an easement from the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Energy Transfer Partners
Lake Oahu is the water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has been fighting the pipeline since April. Standing Rock leaders argue that they weren’t adequately consulted about the pipeline, which could contaminate their water supply, and endanger sacred sites. After eight months of clashes between the protesters and an increasingly militarized police force, the US Army ruled that Energy Transfer Partners would not be allowed to drill beneath the river. But President Trump asked the Army Corps to revisit that decision.
Obama couldn’t unilaterally decide to stop it, three months ago, and Trump now, even though he’s issued this memorandum, it doesn’t say go forward and grant this permit, or else. It says the agency you need to consider these things. For them to simply stop that process and switch gears I think opens the door to some significant potential legal challenges, particularly if their decision is viewed as essentially arbitrary. Aside from legal battles, what might really kill these pipelines are economics. Dropping oil prices might take away the incentive for companies, like say TransCanada or Energy Transfer Partners, to invest in pipelines in the future. Which would be good news for the environmentalists and the first nations people who have been fighting for centuries to protect their land. And there is this whole other wrinkle too that we didn’t even get into, it is the problem of Eminent Domain.
In the state of Iowa, the government granted, I think it was 200 parcels of land to the Dakota Access Pipeline, and then of course 17 of those landowners were like NO and they used. And then in Nebraska, with Keystone, the state government couldn’t actually agree within itself who had the power to grant the Eminent Domain.