Environmentalists celebrated a major victory over Big Oil on Friday night at the White House after President Obama officially announced he would not approve the Northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. The 1,700-mile TransCanada project triggered a seven-year battle joined by scores of environmental groups who worked to defeat it.
Obama’s announcement on November 6 came four years to the day after 350.org, Sierra Club and many other organizations held a major protest against the pipeline at the White House.
The victory marks the first time people power of a grassroots movement leveraged political power to defeat a major fossil fuel project. It is likely to embolden green groups to step up efforts to convert energy policies to renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
Had the Keystone XL pipeline been built, it would have resulted in a daily capacity of 860,000 gallons of Alberta tar sands bitumen being transported to Gulf Coast refineries.
A gas pipeline in Brooke County, West Virginia exploded into a ball of flames on Monday morning, marking the fourth major mishap at a U.S. pipeline this month.
No one was hurt in the explosion, but residents told the local WTRF 7 news station that they could see a massive fireball shooting hundreds of feet into the air. An emergency dispatcher reportedly told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the flames had melted the siding off one home and damaged at least one power line. The gas pipeline is owned by Houston, Texas-based The Enterprise Products, L.P., which said Monday evening that it is investigating the cause of the explosion.
The West Virginia explosion is the fourth in a string of news-making pipeline incidents this month. Earlier this month, a gas pipeline in Mississippi operated by GulfSouth Pipeline exploded, rattling residents’ windows and causing a smoke plume large enough to register on National Weather Service radar screens. On Jan. 17, a pipeline owned by Bridger Pipeline LLC in Montana spilled up to 50,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River, a spill that left thousands of Montanans without drinkable tap water. Just a few days later, on Jan. 22, it was discovered that 3 million gallons of saltwater drilling waste had spilled from a North Dakota pipeline earlier in the month. That spill was widely deemed the state’s largest contaminant release into the environment since the North Dakota oil boom began. Continue reading West Virginia Explosion Fourth Major Pipeline Accident in Two Weeks→
Sterling, VA – On January 14, a small crowd of people gathered suspiciously in the corridors of Dulles Town Center mall in Loudoun County, a Northern Virginia suburb of Washington, DC. They sat huddled in a circle, some looking anxiously over their shoulders as mall security kept careful watch, fearful, it seemed, of possible mischief. To the side was a disheveled pile of jackets barely concealing posters, signs, and even a miniature wind turbine that stuck out from underneath. One poster read “President Obama, Reject the Keystone Pipeline.”
It was obvious enough that these folks hadn’t come to the mall to shop. But neither had they come to protest, which, it turned out, was what mall security feared. They had come instead to hold a public vigil calling on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, the controversial tar sands pipeline that, if approved, would transport some of the dirtiest crude oil on the planet from Alberta, Canada across the United States for export overseas. A bill to approve the pipeline is expected to reach Obama’s desk soon. Continue reading Nationwide Rallies Against Keystone XL Reach Virginia Suburbs→
A deeply-divided Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday upheld the law under which former Gov. Dave Heineman approved the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline through the state. And while attention shifted to Washington, where President Obama is expected to make a final decision on the pipeline, further legal wrangling in Nebraska remained a possibility.
Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, on his first full day on the job, said Friday’s ruling was good news, since now there were “no legal hindrances” to interfere with digging the trenches through Nebraska for the Keystone XL Pipeline.
‘It’s an involved decision but we are pleased that the statute was held to be still in effect,” Peterson said. “We can move ahead with the Keystone pipeline.” (Click here to read the opinion).
On Saturday, January 10, groups opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline rallied at the White House to urge the administration to stop it after the new Republican-led Congress made getting the pipeline built its first issue of business.
On Thursday, the Senate Energy Committee passed a bill to expedite the construction of the northern leg of the KXL. On Friday, the House passed its version of the bill. The full Senate will begin debating the bill on Monday.
Also on Friday, the Nebraska State Supreme Court ruled against three landowners in the Keystone XL’s path, and upheld the constitutionality of a law which they had challenged.
On November 18, the Senate effort to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline fell one vote short of the necessary supermajority. As the last votes were counted and Senator Mary Landrieu’s hopes of proving her undying fealty to Big Oil were dashed, a lone voice from the gallery burst out in song.
Outside the Chamber, in contrast to the noble song, cue the Imperial March played on a kazoo. Senator Mitch McConnell greeted the press, eager to say that Keystone XL will be “early on the agenda” of the next Congress.
Conservation and tribal groups filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. State Department’s secretive approval of a plan to allow Canadian oil giant Enbridge to nearly double the amount of tar sands oil in the Alberta Clipper pipeline. The approval this summer happened without public notice and without a legally required review that’s meant to protect air, water, wildlife, and public health, in spite of a previous State Department decision that any expansion of Alberta Clipper would require a federal permit.
The pipeline transports tar sands oil from Alberta through Minnesota, with a terminus in Superior, Wisc. From the Canadian border, the pipeline runs 327 miles through North Dakota and Minnesota to Wisconsin, passing through three Native American reservations, as well as the Northern Divide, the Mississippi River, Chippewa National Forest and Leech Lake.