Tar Sands by Any Other Name

This post was reprinted from a press statement by Trevor Lovell in response to TransCanada’s announcement yesterday, February 27th regarding their plans to pursue the building of a pipeline from Cushing, OK to the refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast while pursuing a new application for the Keystone XL pipeline through the heartland of the US.

Texans are a proud people and not to be taken for fools. TransCanada today has changed the name of its Keystone XL pipeline in Texas and claims it will be used for U.S. crude oil – knowing that such a use would be temporary at best and that it would be converted to tar sands in very short order. The diluted bitumen that this pipeline ultimately would carry must be pumped at extreme pressures, increasing the likelihood and magnitude of a leak. It also is far more toxic, as the sludge must be diluted with chemicals like benzene, which is considered threatening at levels higher than 6 parts per billion.

The White House’s judgment appears clouded with regard to the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. In stating support for the project, the president has willfully neglected the fact that this pipeline is intended to carry diluted bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands mines – a substance far more toxic and corrosive than crude petroleum. Allowing TransCanada to dress this project as a crude oil pipeline knowing full-well this is not its purpose, and further, knowing that it will deliver a far more dangerous feedstock across important water resources in our drought-stricken state is a dereliction of duty. The president and TransCanada can rest assured that Texans of all political stripes will take every step possible to impede its construction.

Public Citizen’s Texas office calls upon the president and relevant agencies to treat this pipeline as a tar sands pipeline. Additionally, it would be imprudent to build this pipeline when we anticipate new findings from a congressionally mandated study on the unique dangers of tar sands pipelines that may inform new regulations for this industry. Texas may be an oil-and-gas state, but the health and safety of our residents are no less important than they are anywhere else. Our water resources are threatened now more than ever. We are due a minimum of protection from our elected and appointed leaders.