Keystone Spills 200,000 Gallons of Tar Sands Crude, Could Affect Keystone XL Vote Monday

The Keystone Pipeline is in dark red, Keystone XL is in green. (Wikimedia Commons)

The current Keystone pipeline that runs from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska spilled 5,000 barrels, or more than 200,000 gallons of tar sands crude oil this morning, according to accounts in the Washington Post and other media outlets.

The spill occurred just southeast of the small town of Amherst in northeast South Dakota, affecting either grasslands or agricultural land, the story said.

This gives pipeline opponents one more example to use to try to stop other major projects, such as Keystone XL and Enbridge Line 3 through northern Minnesota.

A story in the Atlantic described the Keystone as a 1,100-mile-long pipeline that links oil fields in Alberta, Canada, to the large crude-trading hubs in Patoka, Illinois, and Cushing, Oklahoma. … It was completed in 2011.”

Keystone is the older sibling to the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal, which still awaits final approvals. (See map.) TransCanada, a Canadian-based pipeline company, is behind both projects.

During his term, former President Obama rejected Keystone XL. But President Trump quickly reversed that, issuing an executive order to approve it. As the Post reports, the project still needs the approval of the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC). It just so happens the PSC had scheduled a key vote on Keystone XL for Monday.

Activists are citing today’s spill as one more reason to reject Keystone XL.

As a story by CNN summarizes:

The approval [by Trump] followed years of intense debate over the pipeline amid hefty opposition from environmental groups, who argued the pipeline supports the extraction of crude oil from oil sands, which pumps about 17% more greenhouse gases than standard crude oil extraction. Environmentalists also opposed the pipeline because it would cut across the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the world’s largest underground deposits of fresh water.

Tar sands oil is much thicker and stickier than traditional oil, significantly complicating cleanup efforts. The fact it’s thicker also means it needs to be combined with other hazardous materials to allow it to be transported in pipelines.

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