Keystone XL builder asks government to delay pipeline review

It has been 10 years since TransCanada first proposed the Keystone XL pipeline. Does this latest effort signal the end of the project or the beginning of a waiting game? 

AP File/Tony Gutierrez
In the is Oct. 4, 2012 file photo, large sections of pipe are shown on a neighboring property to Julia Trigg Crawford family farm, in Sumner Texas. The company on Monday requested a suspension of a US State Department review of a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

In what is being viewed as a victory for the environmental movement, a Canadian company has pulled back from its effort to install the contentious Keystone XL pipeline, for now.

TransCanada sent a letter to the US State Department on Monday requesting of the suspension of a permit application to build the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline from Calgary, Alberta, across the US border and into parts of Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

In its letter, TransCanada cited a legal challenge in Nebraska over the pipeline’s route, saying the process will take seven to 12 months to be resolved.

Environmentalists, however, see the request as a maneuver to buy time until President Obama’s term expires, in the chance that his successor is a pipeline-friendly Republican. Analysts say that the Obama administration had been planning to reject the permit, possibly in the coming weeks.

"TransCanada rightly sensed that the tide has turned against Keystone XL and now they're trying to delay any decision in the hopes that they can get a Republican president to approve it," said Valerie Love with the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity.

Analysts say the decision shows a change in strategy for the company, which owns vast swaths of land in the tar sands of Alberta. Some suggest that falling oil prices may be influencing TransCanada’s decisions.

It has been more than 10 years since TransCanada first proposed constructing the pipeline. Since then, prices have plummeted by roughly two-thirds, to $50 a barrel today, while the United States has increased its own oil production.

The high cost of tar sands production has only added to the TransCanada’s challenges, along with increasingly limited options for entry into the United States.

TransCanada Chief Executive Russ Girling has said access to the Gulf of Mexico is too important for the company to back down from its planned route, assuming it still has the support of the US shipping industry, The Wall Street Journal reports. 

TransCanada has already invested $2.5 billion on the pipeline. Construction costs were initially projected to be $8 billion,, though after years trying to push the project through they may be as high as $10 billion.

The company’s third-quarter earnings report is due next week, which may shed additional light on the TransCanada’s next move.

TransCanada already has a smaller pipeline in place from Calgary to production facilities in Illinois, though their efforts to install the much larger Keystone to Nebraska would allow the company to send more than 800,000 barrels of crude each day to refineries in Texas.

Keystone appeared to be on course for approval, until environmental groups began pointing out the enormous carbon impact of extracting fuel from tar sands. In August, the White House unveiled its Clean Power Plan, which seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent by 2030.

Since Monday’s announcement by TransCanada, environmental groups and others are now pressing the Obama administration to outright reject that pipeline rather than agree to a suspension.

“TransCanada see the writing on the will and it trying to run the clock out, said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in a statement. “President Obama has all the evidence he need to reject the Keystone XL now.” 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Keystone XL builder asks government to delay pipeline review
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/USA-Update/2015/1103/Keystone-XL-builder-asks-government-to-delay-pipeline-review
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe