Wasatch Environmental Update for November 18, 2018
By John Worlock, Member of Save Our Canyons
“Keystone XL Oil Pipeline – Potentially Dead Again”
Steele City, Nebraska is a tiny town, boasting only a quarter of a square mile in area and, at the 2010 census, a population of 61. It is also the locus of a massive pumping and distribution station for oil coming down from Canada and headed eastward into Illinois and southward into Oklahoma and eventually the Texas coast. The Canadian oil comes from Hardisty, Alberta, itself an industry hub handling several varieties of petroleum sources, and hosting also a massive rail terminal to distribute its product.
The pipeline from Hardisty to Steele City is known as Keystone, put into operation in June 2010 and owned by TransCanada Corporation.
But today we focus our attention on the controversial proposed Keystone XL pipeline, promising a shortcut from Hardisty to Steele City, passing diagonally through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. Suddenly construction on the Keystone XL is stopped by an order from a District Judge in Montana. We should say it is stopped again, as it had been stopped in 2015 by the Obama administration. That decision was reversed last year by the Trump administration. This reversal was in turn challenged early this month by Judge Brian Morris of the District of Montana, responding to a lawsuit by the Indigenous Environment Network and others.
Many in the environmental community celebrated Morris’s decision, but we, personally, didn’t celebrate much, as our experience is that government agencies are adept at simply rewriting their rationale, without truly addressing the underlying issues.
However! We are buoyed up by an article in High Country News by Jonathan Thompson, one of our favorite contributing editors. His headline is “A judge just dealt a potentially fatal blow to Keystone XL.” We like the word “fatal,” and have to live with the potentiality.
Thompson scolded the Trump administration, writing that, “An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, any more than it can ignore inconvenient facts when it writes on a blank slate.”
We have no time for further details, but you can find Thomson’s article at HCN dot org. Look for “A judge just dealt a potentially fatal blow to Keystone XL.” It just might cheer you up a bit.