Keystone XL Dies Quietly As Canada Approves Alternate Proposal

In what may be the death knell for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, the Canadian government of Stephen Harper has approved a purely Canadian pipeline to transport the Alberta tar sands to ships waiting to send it overseas. By eliminating the pipeline which would run across the nations largest aquifer, the environmental concerns raised over Keystone XL would evaporate immediately. It handily avoids the aquifers in Canada to boot, being east of the Paskapoo Formation in Alberta, running north of the Oak Ridges Moraine Aquifer System near Toronto, and ending before reaching the Annapolis-Cornwallis Valley Aquifers in Nova Scotia. Clearly, TransCanada has learned from its mistakes in the handling of Keystone XL.

The name of this Keystone XL killer pipeline? Energy East.

To accomplish this, TransCanada would convert approximately 3,000 kilometers of existing natural gas pipeline to transporting tar sands. This is only small part of Canada’s over 480,000 kilometres natural gas transportation and distribution network, but it does mean a shifting of distribution as it would reduce the capacity of a critical west-east link in the distribution network. This has brought significant criticism of the plan over this capacity reduction. In their defense, TransCanada is quick to point out that the link is significantly underutilized, so the conversion of some of it to tar sands should not cause any disruption.

By switching from an international to a purely Canadian pipeline, TransCanada has neatly bypassed the issues raised by those with concerns here in the US. This new pipeline had previously been opposed based on the higher cost associated, but with the delays have in effect forced TransCanada’s hand. Of course, they have put their best face forward, dismissing concerns over the environment and communities impacted, just as they did with Keystone XL.

Even as several midterm races bring up Keystone XL in some attempt to sway voters, the writing appears to be on the wall for the beleaguered project. With the primary backer now changing its focus, it appears that the Speaker of the House will not get the windfall he expected. Too bad for him, but good for those of us in the US who recognized Keystone XL for what it was, a bad idea.