Gazette opinion: TransCanada pipeline permit should be issued soon

2013-03-18T00:00:00Z Gazette opinion: TransCanada pipeline permit should be issued soon The Billings Gazette
March 18, 2013 12:00 am

As the bureaucratic permitting process grinds on, the latest environmental impact statement confirms there’s no substantial environmental or safety reason to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

Environmental impacts can be mitigated, according to the State Department supplemental EIS released on March 1.

“Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the U.S.,” the report says.

TransCanada has agreed to incorporate 57 special conditions developed by Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration into the proposed project and its operations, maintenance and emergencies manual. These measures include reducing spill risk by taking precautions against pipeline corrosion, stress cracking and operator error.

The proposed 36-inch-pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels per day of oil from Alberta and the Bakken area of North Dakota and Montana to refineries on the Texas coast. The State Department permit covers only the route from the Port of Morgan, Mont., to Steel City, Neb.

The on ramp that Montana required as a condition of state approval makes the pipeline more important to our state.

The State Department summarized that part of the project: “Keystone MarketLink, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of TransCanada Pipelines Limited, would construct and operate the Bakken MarketLink Project. This project would include a 5-mile pipeline, pumps, meters, and storage tanks to supply Bakken crude oil to the proposed pipeline from the proposed Bakken MarketLink pipeline system in North Dakota and Montana. Three crude oil storage tanks would be built near Baker, Mont., as part of this project. This proposed project can deliver up to 100,000 bpd (barrels per day) of crude oil, and has commitments for approximately 65,000 bpd.”

The 875-mile-long Morgan to Steel City project would cost $3.3 billion and, if permitted, could be in operation in 2015. (The Nebraska reroute may delay pipeline completion, according to recent news reports. In February, a few weeks after the Nebraska governor approved the new route through his state, the Nebraska Public Power District said electrical transmission lines to serve the pipeline must be redesigned and won’t be ready by 2015.)

Here’s what the State Department says about pipeline jobs: “Including direct, indirect and induced effects, the proposed project would potentially support approximately 42,100 average annual jobs across the United States over a 1- to 2-year period (of which approximately 3,900 would be directly employed in construction activities). This employment would potentially translate into approximately $2.05 billion in earnings.

“Operation of the proposed project would generate 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs, primarily for routine inspections, maintenance and repairs.”

The Keystone XL pipeline would provide:

- Another supply link between Canada and the United States, which already imports most of our northern neighbor’s oil production.

- A needed new route to get Bakken crude to market.

- Property tax revenues in Montana and several eastern counties.

- A large number of U.S. construction jobs and a small number of permanent jobs.

This Alberta tar sands oil is going to market one way or the other. The best way is through Montana via the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The EIS review will be completed in a couple of months. Then President Obama should approve the pipeline permit in the best interest of the United States.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. Nanabedokw'môlsem
    Report Abuse
    Nanabedokw'môlsem - March 24, 2013 10:32 am
    The article says:
    “Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the U.S.,” the report says.

    The release of one drop of water through a small hole in a dam is unlikely to erode the dam or cause any downstream flooding.

    Dear editorialist, it is the cumulative effect of repeated such situations that lays waste to a larger neighborhood.
  2. billy banger
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    billy banger - March 20, 2013 7:55 am
    They probably have different viscosities and wolld act like a unit being transported and they probably would not mix in the pipeline.
  3. Our MT
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    Our MT - March 19, 2013 2:50 pm
    Nebraska approved the alternate route months ago. The State Dept has twice determined there is no substantial impact or risk with the pipeline. The studies on this pipeline have now gone on longer than World War 2 lasted. Of course that was only a war, this is another PIPELINE!

    Recently the only comment out of the President is to dismiss the project. He knows he doesn't want it built. He just hasn't found an excuse to use for cover as to why he continues to deny it. No politics there.
  4. Billings-center-of-Montana-Wyoming
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    Billings-center-of-Montana-Wyoming - March 19, 2013 5:59 am
    Nebraska was to blame. And now the issues are resolved. Sorry tea naggers this is not a political issue

  5. Our MT
    Report Abuse
    Our MT - March 18, 2013 10:57 am
    Hope the President is done playing politics and lets this be built. No "Matured" there won't be "jobs galore" nor will gasoline prices fall. Yet gasoline prices won't rise because of this either. In the end the pipeline will help Montana, and the country. There will be some jobs building it. Cities and the state will benefit during the construction phase. Then they will benefit from the permanent jobs in maintaining and operating it.

    Once the pipeline is built, MT oil will bring a better price which means more money in our economy and higher MT state royalty taxes. MT cities, counties, and schools, will also benefit for generations to come from significant property tax income paid by the pipeline company. "Matured", no this won't help you or I personally, it will clearly be a big benefit to our state. While that may not satisfy you, that is good enough for me. Build it.
  6. Redhill
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    Redhill - March 18, 2013 10:23 am
    Prejudging the results of the EIS process is similar to prejudging the legal process. Time is need to make good judgements for the environment and for people!
  7. matured
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    matured - March 18, 2013 8:20 am
    ya-ya-ya...same old pitch for big oil, always a big windy about how much of a blessing for the working people of Montana,touting jobs-jobs-jobs.
    Baloney... I worked a pipeline in Nebraska some time back, I was the only one Montanan
    hired, for the exception of some local short term contractors, why ? ...because Texas has a lock on building pipelines in this country.
    When the Hardin prison building was built, our poor under-informed town population was initially fed the same "jobs-galore" propaganda", then watched from the side-lines as the Texas boys filled the bulk of the hired.
    Allow this pipeline and watch the pump prices surge upward once again, just like the pipeline in Alaska, pump prices shot up asap during the construction period. Look at the Balkan... gas prices spiraling almost before the first Rig turned a drill pipe.... If Big-Oil wants a pipeline, make them pay for once, BTW Prudho,17 out of 24 tankers go overseas
  8. fidlr
    Report Abuse
    fidlr - March 18, 2013 4:37 am
    While being basically neutral re: the Keystone pipeline I still do not understand how one 36" pipeline could transport dirty tar sands crude and also Bakken sweet crude at the same time. Aren't the La. refineries the only ones that could process the tar sands oil? Could the concept be that one will be transported before the other? If so which? This is confusing.

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