Environmentalists Fight Keystone XL Despite Growing Safety Concerns

by on February 6, 2014 2:49 am BST

The Keystone XL pipeline has been a popular topic in the North American energy industry for the last five years as President Barrack Obama as lingered on the issue. Now, activists are fighting the pipeline after proposing a 7,000-page enviromental analysis as aid the President on why he shouldn’t sign-off on the project.

The long-pending Keystone would cost roughly $5.4 billion and extend from Canada to the United States, and analysts can see approval as early as July. The 875-mile pipeline network would connect from Canadian oil sands to refineries along the US Gulf Coast. TransCanada Corp. initiated the process more than five years ago, and environmentalists have fought it ever since. President Obama has to decide between his environmentalist lobbying friends and relations with Canada, whose officials are getting uptight with the lack of progress.

The State Department is still determining whether or not it is in the nation interest of the United States, but others feel that as the energy output in the US continues to grow, a more advanced logistical network must be put in place.

On July 3, 2013, a train carrying crude and fuel exploded in  Lac-Mégantic, Quebec killing five people. As recently as December 31, 2013, BNSF Railway Co. was transporting oil in cars that exploded after colliding with another train in North Dakota. “Any time there is an incident, you have heightened talk and scrutiny on oil transportation,” said Brigham McCown, a former director of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

There has been four major derailments involving crude transportation last year in North America, and the Keystone XL pipeline could help avoid further disasters. As the State Department tried to appease environmentalists, their own data shows that trains carrying fuel has a death rate thrice that of pipelines and a fire or explosion rate nine times higher than pipelines. The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said that pipelines have the best safety record when compared to other modes of transportation.