DAPL Operational, Keystone XL Moves Ahead, But Do We Really Need Them?

The 2013 Mayflower oil spill occurred on March 29, 2013 in Arkansas, releasing 134,000 gallons of crude oil. (Wikimedia Foundation)

Dakota Access LLC has reported that oil would start flowing through the pipeline this week, according an article in Slate.

The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribe are challenging the pipeline in court, claiming the federal government violated environmental, historic-preservation, and religious-freedom laws in approving the project. The ruling is likely several weeks away, the article said.

Keystone XL also is moving forward, and will get federal approval today, according to a story in MPR:

The go-ahead for Keystone will mark a clear victory for oil industry advocates, who say the pipeline will create jobs and improve U.S. energy security. Both of those arguments are disputed by the pipeline’s opponents. They say new jobs will be minimal and short-lived, and argue the pipeline won’t help the U.S. with its energy needs because the oil is destined for export.

And Enbridge continues to pursue its Line 3 expansion through northern Minnesota, another pipeline carrying dirty Canadian tar sands oils.

These projects make little sense given the U.S.’s decline in crude oil imports and the fact that we are now a net exporter of refined gas products.

Do We Need All These Projects?

Here are a few oil-related facts you might find surprising.

  • Minnesota’s petroleum fuel consumption has been flat since 2010, and since its 2004 peak it is down 19 percent, according to data provided by the Sierra Club’s North Star Chapter. (On a national level, U.S. petroleum fuel consumption also is down since the mid-2000s, but not as much as in Minnesota, about 6 percent.)
  • From its peak in 2006, U.S. crude oil imports had dropped more than 20 percent by 2016. (See: Crude Oil Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.)
  • In early 2011, the United States became a net exporter of noncrude petroleum liquids and refined petroleum products, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

So why are we expanding crude oil pipelines?

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