Keystone Pipelines Had Severe Spills While XL Was Under Consideration

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

TC Energy, the company behind the now-defunct Keystone XL pipeline, had a “worse than the national average” five-year oil spill record, according to a Government Accountability Office report published Monday.

  • The energy company’s pipelines dumped nearly 12,000 barrels of oil in two major spills alone as it was trying to triple the amount of oil in its system through the Keystone XL project.
  • According to the report, those two spills were caused by faulty materials, bad construction, and defects in pipe manufacturing.
  • And even though its accidents were “similar to crude oil pipelines nationwide,” it still had 22 in a decade

Why This Matters: The report is validation for President Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL permit on its first day in office. But its contents are not entirely new information. It’s well-known that pipelines can and often do leak, harming the health of people and wildlife living nearby. In the U.S. alone, an average of 300 pipeline spills happen per year, and from 1986 to 2013, these incidents have spilled an average of 3 million gallons annually

These are not new weapons per se,” Jane Kleeb, chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, told Politico. “But I am deeply grateful that this is now in the formal record.”

Eyes on Advancing Pipelines: The Keystone XL project is dead, but as Politico notes, “environmental justice advocates have criticized the Biden administration for failing to take similarly decisive action to shut down other Canada-U.S. pipelines, such as the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota.” In the first half of 2020 alone, more than 9,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines in the United States were under construction. That includes Line 3, a replacement for an old pipeline that’s already being built

Medical professionals took part in a recent national Line 3 pipeline protest, calling out its health risks to people and the planet. The Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate advocacy group that organized the protests called out the pipeline’s “immediate and long-term threats to Minnesota communities and Indigenous peoples, whether from an oil spill or from the pipeline’s contribution to climate change,” according to reporting by Grist

The health of Minnesotans is at risk,” said Teddie Potter, director of planetary health at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, at the event in St. Paul, Minnesota. “Tar sands oil threatens the health and wellness of future generations; we must stop the line.”

Even before the pipeline itself is operational, there have been 28 drilling fluid spills along the construction route. If the pipeline does get completed, any spill would be detrimental to the wild rice sacred to local Indigenous people and the water bodies that support it.

Up Next

Clean Energy Means More Electricity, Can US Cities Meet the Demand?

Clean Energy Means More Electricity, Can US Cities Meet the Demand?

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer Cities across the US are transitioning their buildings to clean energy, which would mean banning natural gas in new construction and promoting electric appliances. But the question remains whether or not infrastructure — foundational and historic — is ready to handle such a demand for electricity.    Why this […]

Continue Reading 358 words
One Cool Thing: Electric Rentals

One Cool Thing: Electric Rentals

As more people around the nation are taking to the roads and skies for their vaccinated vacations, one car rental company is making it easier for folks to not only travel in style, but travel green. Hertz has announced that it will be purchasing 100,000 Tesla electric vehicles by the end of 2022 alongside an […]

Continue Reading 152 words
Climate Change-Fueled Weather Increasing Power Outages

Climate Change-Fueled Weather Increasing Power Outages

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Last year, the average American household experienced eight hours without power, as storms hammered electrical systems built with less erratic climate conditions in mind. That average outage time is double what it was five years ago. But only looking at the average obscures the experience of people who lived […]

Continue Reading 421 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.