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Today's Keystone Pipeline Spill Count is 14.

There have been at least fourteen known spills on the Keystone Pipeline since the start of operations in June 2010. Have evidence of another Keystone Pipeline spill? Let us know! info[at]

Tribal concerns about Keystone XL

September 18, 2012

The Washington Post reports at significant length about tribal concerns along the Keystone XL route.  Similar concerns were raised, and dismissed with little action, when the Keystone I pipeline was built.  In most cases, the land where the pipeline will be built isn’t currently owned by the tribes, but is part of ancestral homelands that include sacred sites and burial grounds.  The tribes want to catalog sites that may be affected and prevent disruption to places with historical, archeological, or spiritual significance.

TransCanada releases new proposed NE Keystone XL route

September 6, 2012

The Lincoln Journal-Star reports on TransCanada’s new proposed route, which avoids the Sandhills but still crosses a large stretch of the Ogallala aquifer.

About that pipeline tax “windfall”

July 16, 2012

Nebraska’s tax proceeds from the first year of operation for the Keystone I pipeline crossing the eastern edge of the state proved to be less than half the $5.5 million annual number that TransCanada claimed when promoting the project.  The actual figure is around $2.2 million.  TransCanada, ever the optimist, claims that the number will rise in the current fiscal year, an assertion that raises logical skepticism.  Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, as they say.

Why “record” fine for Michigan oil spill is a slap on the wrist

July 5, 2012

Former Plains Justice staff attorney Paul Blackburn’s guest commentary for Midwest Energy News.

US Grants Permit for Southernmost Segment of Keystone XL

July 2, 2012

The New York Times reported last week that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted TransCanada construction permits for part of the Keystone XL route passing through Texas.  This isn’t the full Gulf Coast segment from Cushing, Oklahoma: the rest remains under review.  TransCanada states that it intends to begin construction on the full Oklahoma – Texas link later this summer.  No formal responses from opponents have emerged.  For those of you who are wondering if and when Plains Justice will get involved, the answer is that we don’t currently have any capacity to work in southern plains states.  We’re just passing on what others are working on.  Check the Blogroll to the right to find engaged locals.

State department press release on new Keystone XL application

May 4, 2012

The State Department has received a new application from TransCanada Corp. for a proposed pipeline that would run from the Canadian border to connect to an existing pipeline in Steele City, Nebraska. The new application includes proposed new routes through the state of Nebraska. The Department is committed to conducting a rigorous, transparent and thorough review.

Under Executive Order 13337, it is the Department’s responsibility to determine if granting a permit for the proposed pipeline is in the national interest. We will consider this new application on its merits. Consistent with the Executive Order, this involves consideration of many factors, including energy security, health, environmental, cultural, economic, and foreign policy concerns.

We will begin by hiring an independent third-party contractor to assist the Department, including reviewing the existing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from the prior Keystone XL pipeline review process, as well as identifying and assisting with new analysis.

We will cooperate with the state of Nebraska, as well as other relevant State and Federal agencies, throughout the process. Nebraska has stated that their own review of the new route will take six to nine months. Previously when we announced review of alternate routes through Nebraska this past fall, our best estimate on when we would complete the national interest determination was the first quarter of 2013.

We will conduct our review efficiently, using existing analysis as appropriate.

The application will be available on the Keystone XL project website:, and a notice that the Department has received the application will run in the Federal Register.

Keystone XL Risks in South Dakota

April 26, 2012

Dakota Rural Action, a Plains Justice ally that we represented in South Dakota pipeline siting proceedings before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, just issued this press release:

On April 11, the Nebraska legislature passed legislation, LB 1161, allowing the controversial Keystone XL project to change the original route and avoid the Sandhills region. The unstable, sandy soil and high water table of the Ogallala Aquifer led many Republican and Democrat elected officials to question the wisdom of the project and call on TransCanada, the operation of the project, to reroute the pipeline.

The new proposed route adds another 100 miles to pipeline but still intersects the Ogallala Aquifer. A high water table and sandy soil also exist in southern South Dakota, yet due to strong support of the project by South Dakota Republicans, TransCanada was not forced to reroute in the state.

“A spill by the Keystone XL pipeline into our highly permeable soil that sits just above the Ogallala Aquifer or into one of our rivers that feeds millions of people their drinking water will be devastating to South Dakota’s Ag and Tourism economy,” said John Harter, DRA member and landowner crossed by the pipeline. “This is a great risk just to get this tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast so it can be exported to the world market for top dollar.”

TransCanada must reapply for the national permit before construction can begin. The final landowner easements in South Dakota are currently being acquired by TransCanada with condemnation proceedings in eminent domain court.

There are more issues that need to be addressed such as the Emergency Response Plan, the document used by local residents and first responders in the case of a spill, should be made available for public and local emergency personnel review. Currently, TransCanada must only provide a finalized ERP to emergency workers when construction has started, without any expert or third party input. The public should be able to review and comment on the plans prior to construction because they have intimate knowledge of the land and will likely be the first people to respond if something goes wrong.

Dakota Rural Action has been working with farmers and ranchers impacted by the proposed project since 2008 to ensure that if the pipeline were built in South Dakota, that our land, water and resources are protected.


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