Assessing the impact of the Keystone decision

That decision to pick another route for the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas might have enormous repercussions in BC.

That decision by the U.S. State Department to pick another route for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas might have enormous repercussions in British Columbia.

The whole issue centered around the environmental impact of the pipeline across fragile land on its way to Texas. But the decision to delay until at least 2013 can’t help but been seen as a political one. No doubt President Barack Obama is more than relieved to see that great big elephant moved out of the room, far enough away to put it behind the 2012 U.S. election.

TransCanada Corp based in Calgary has been pushing to build the $7-billion pipeline for the past three years to carry Alberta oilsands bitumen from Hardisty to the Texas coastline. The proponents argued there are lots of incentives for the go-ahead, none the least of which would be thousands of jobs and oil from a friendly, trouble-free neighbour. Then there are all those millions of dollars flowing back to the oil patch. TCC executives must have been pretty grim-faced last Thursday when the decision to delay came down.

The 2,673-kilometre long pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from northern Alberta, would enter Saskatchewan then go south into Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska where it would link with an existing Keystone pipeline. It would then continue into Oklahoma and on into Texas. The problem is, the proposed route goes through some sensitive and critical regions best left undisturbed.

The pipeline would be laid underground but one of the biggest concerns is that it will cross through the ecologically sensitive Sandhills of Nebraska as well as the Ogallala aquifer, a massive underground lake almost as big as Nebraska supplying drinking water to about 1.5 million people in eight states.

The pipeline would run through rich farm and ranch land in six states and cross numerous rivers and aquifers. The vision of an oil leak anywhere along the route has drawn the wrath of so many, not to mention the staggering carbon footprint the project leaves behind.

The opponents aren’t your typical tree-huggers. They include Nebraska’s governor and others in that state’s legislature worried about the impact on their agricultural economy. Joining them are U.S. Vice President Al Gore, land owners, farmers, ranchers, folks on the Hollywood A list and Canadian activists.

The economics of the pipeline for Canada and the United States are huge. The construction  could employ some 13,000 workers; another 7,000 will find jobs in pipeline manufacture, and the project could generate some 118,000 in secondary jobs. These are employment numbers not to be sniffed at.

PM Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty were not impressed. Harper’s been pushing hard on this project. He considers its endorsement a no-brainer. But the delay may now open up other issues much closer to home.

Canada could look to sell its oil elsewhere. Asia heads the list which means that Alberta oilsands crude could be pipelined 1,177 kilometres underground to Kitimat. That Northern Gateway project might just be bumped to the head of the line.

That means jobs, a boosted economy – and a made-in-Canada environmental conflict on the pros and cons of 525,000 barrels of diluted bitumen a day flowing through B.C. while, along a parallel pipeline, 193,000 barrels of condensate flow back to Alberta to dilute the next batch of oil. Then there’s the testy issue of the movement of supertankers, the what-if’s of an oilspill and a seismic seabed. And according to Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner Scott Vaughan, the feds aren’t ready to respond to a major oil spill in Canada.

No doubt Keystone conflicts will keep flowing for some time yet.

Just Posted

A student prepares to throw a plate full of whipped cream at principal Jim Egdcombe’s face as vice principal Devin Atkins watches as part of a fundraiser at Leary Integrated Arts and Technology elementary on Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
The pied principals: Chilliwack elementary staff get messy for charity

Cops for Cancer fundraiser saw kids ‘pie the principal’ at Leary elementary in Chilliwack

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Chilliwack drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

Jordyn Huitema plays for the Canadian national women’s soccer team. (Soccer Canada photos)
Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema and Canada battle Czechs to 0-0 draw

Huitema’s national women’s soccer squad played a friendly match against the Czechs in Spain

Hutch Hotels Ltd., which owned the former Alder Inn (which was demolished in November 2020), is among the defendants in a lawsuit related to an alleged impaired-driving crash in January 2017. The civil suit also names S & L Kitchen and Bar in Abbotsford. (Black Press file photo)
Two Fraser Valley bars named in lawsuit related to alleged impaired-driving crash

S & L Abbotsford and Alder Inn being sued by passenger in 2017 rollover collision

t
How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 13 to 19

Flag Day, Garbage Man Day, International Panic Day all coming up this week

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Lorraine Gibson, 90, received a COVID-19 immunization at the South Surrey Park and Ride vaccination clinic. (File photo: Aaron Hinks)
Surrey has had 25% of B.C.’s total COVID-19 cases

Surrey recorded 4,012 cases in May

Most Read