Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Military Members Gung Ho for Keystone XL

Military members push for pipeline

Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

March 5, 2011

Meagan O'Toole-Pitts Jacksonville Daily Progress The Jacksonville Daily Progress Sat Mar 05, 2011, 02:11 PM CST

JACKSONVILLE — The American GI Forum of Texas and 66 military veterans urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to grant TransCanada a Presidential Permit to allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion this week, aiming to reduce the nation’s dependency on oil in the Middle East.

“The assumption that we’re killing people for oil perhaps part of it is true,” said Gil Rodriguez, chief executive officer of American GI Forum of Texas, Inc., a Hispanic veterans organization. “The Middle East, they’re controlling our lives. They control everything. They’re actually controlling our economy.”

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. consumed an average of 18.8 million barrels per day in 2009. A little over half of the U.S. crude oil and petroleum products were imported.

Saudi Arabia, the nation’s third biggest importer, supplied 10.4 percent of the nation’s imports of crude and petroleum products in 2009. The Persian Gulf countries of Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates combined supplied 17 percent of the nation’s imports of crude oil and petroleum products in 2009.

In December 2010, the U.S. imported an average of 1.08 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products per day from Saudi Arabia. In the same month, 2.7 million barrels per day of crude oil and petroleum products were imported from Canada.

Canada supplied 23.3 percent of the U.S.’ crude oil and petroleum product imports in 2009, making it the nation’s biggest importer. Venezuela is the nation’s second biggest importer.

“We don’t import that much from the Middle East,” said Patrick Kilcoyne, EIA statistician for Crude Oil Exports, Imports, and Refining. “We get a lot from West Africa. We get a lot from Venezuela.”

If TransCanada receives a Presidential Permit, the Keystone XL pipeline will be lengthened in two parts: from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, and from Cushing, Oklahoma to East Texas, forking to Nederland and Houston. It is expected to carry about one million barrels of diluted bitumen (Dilbit), a type of unrefined oil, per day.

The pipeline will carry oil from Alberta, Canada, and as much 25 percent of the one million barrels of oil shipped per day will be from the U.S., said TransCanada Representative Terry Cunha.

Last month, TransCanada signed five-year contracts with oil companies in Baker, Mont. and in Cushing, Okla.

“With this pipeline, we’ll be developing petroleum reserves not only in Canada but in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, as well,” said retired Air Force Major General Drennan A. Clark of Reno, Nev., one of the 66 veterans that sent a letter to Clinton on Friday. “We will then be spending our money on energy here in this country rather than sending it to unstable parts of the Middle East. National security requires that we have a safe and dependable source of energy for our entire economy, both civil and military, and they way you get that is to have energy independence.”

The pipeline will run 370 miles through 18 counties in Texas, including Cherokee, Rusk, Angelina, Nacogdoches and Smith counties. It will cross six major rivers throughout the U.S., including the Neches River in East Texas, and the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water in eight states and 30 percent of the ground water used for irrigation in the U.S., according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

STOP (Stop Tarsands Oil Pipelines), a Texas group opposed to the pipeline, is concerned about the possibility of the pipeline contaminating groundwater, said Vicki Baggett, a STOP member in Nacogdoches who addressed Groundwater Management Area 11 board members in January.

According to a report by the NRDC released last month, Dilbit has a higher acidity, viscosity, sulfur content, pipeline temperature, pipeline pressure and more abrasives than crude, making it an agent that erodes pipeline walls faster.

“One thing that we found it that the concept of the difference between diluted bitumen and conventional oil is not something that has been really well explored in the United States,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, international program director at the NRDC and co-author of the report. “The companies keep saying ‘This essentially is just like oil, it’s not that different’ but what we were finding is that it is very different.”

The pipeline will be built to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission standards, with walls .465-inch thick, and a pipe diameter of 36 inches. It will lay four feet underground, flow at a temperatures upward of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, flow with a pressure of 1,440 (pound force per square inch), and have six shut-off valves throughout its 1,661-mile length from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

When considering new data released from the NRDC, STOP members said they want new standards set for pipelines carrying Dilbit before a Presidential Permit is granted to TransCanada.

“In sections of the existing (Keystone) pipeline, 47 anomalies were detected and that indicates the pipe was expanding,” said STOP founder David Daniel, a Winnsboro landowner whose land has been acquired by TransCanada for the pipeline. “To me, that’s an indication that the pipe’s not strong enough.”

Safety is a concern, Rodriguez said, but national security and unemployment rates are also issues that must be addressed.

“Of course we have to be concerned about the environment, about the possibility of leakage, but we should also we concerned about the economy, our jobs,” he said.

According to a study by the Perryman Group, the pipeline will create 50,365 jobs in Texas alone, and a total of 118, 935 jobs in the U.S. However, according to data from the State Department, about 156 to 379 local workers in Texas will be employed for the construction of the pipeline, and a total of 500 to 1,246 Americans would be hired for the project, which is expected to last three years.

Last month, 30 members of the House of Representatives, citing job creation figures produced by the Perryman Group, wrote to Clinton asking that a Presidential Permit be granted to TransCanada for the pipeline extension.

“Despite a recent focus on renewable energy, America is still many years away from ending its dependence on non-renewable resources like petroleum,” said the letter. “Without plentiful sources of energy, the United States must accommodate and pander to oil producing nations with autocratic governments whose behavior would be profoundly condemned in other circumstances.”

Of the 30 representatives that signed the letter, six live a in state in which the pipeline extension will be built — Texas. Texas representatives that signed the letter are Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX 15th), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX 30th), Pete Olson (R-TX 22nd), Ted Poe (R-TX 2nd), Gene Green (D-TX 29th), and Bill Flores (R-TX 17th).

Of the 66 veterans that wrote to Clinton, 12 live in states in which the pipeline extension will be built — five from Texas, five from Nebraska, and two from Montana.


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