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Letters to the Editor

Don’t believe the rhetoric

Alex Pourbaix June 5th, 2013

In regard to Nathaniel Batchelder’s May 22 commentary, “No time for pipeline” (Oklahoma Gazette):

As we draw near to a decision on a presidential permit to build the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the rhetoric by our opponents trying to make the project a referendum on oil sands development is becoming more shrill and even less factual. These activists would have you believe that a Keystone XL approval means game over for humanity and the planet. Such claims are wildly inaccurate and completely unhelpful for Americans trying to learn the facts about Keystone XL, which has gone through four federal environmental reviews and four strong votes of support from the U.S. House.

In truth, greenhouse gas emissions from the Canadian oil sands contribute 1/1000th of the total amount of emissions globally. A 2012 U.S. Congressional Research Service study found greenhouse gas emissions from energy produced from oil sands crude delivered by Keystone would increase U.S. annual greenhouse gas emissions by a paltry 0.06 to 0.3 percent.

The crude oil in Keystone is the same as the millions of barrels of crude oil already being transported across the U.S., and it poses no additional risk to the public. The U.S. Department of State’s updated environmental impact statement on Keystone XL concluded that the pipeline will have minimal impact on the environment.

Batchelder’s claim that the oil sands will surface mine an area the size of Florida is completely incorrect. Alberta’s surface mining area is limited to an 1,850-square-mile region near Fort McMurray, about 3 percent of the size of the Sunshine State. Just 294 square miles of this area is being disturbed by oil sands mining.

Pipelines are by far the safest way of transporting petroleum products. Our existing Keystone pipeline has safely delivered more than 400 million barrels of crude oil to U.S. refineries since

July 2010. The pipeline in the ground has never leaked — period. Batchelder knows that the small number of spills that have occurred from Keystone have all been related to leakage from small fittings and seals on our property at above-ground pump stations, all of which were repaired and cleaned up with no environmental impact. The average amount of oil leaked was five gallons.

We have maintained since 2010 — and the State Department concurs — that building the pipeline will create 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs for American workers and is expected to inject approximately $3.4 billion into the U.S. GDP.

Right now, 4,000 American workers are constructing the Gulf Coast Pipeline

Project from Cushing, Okla., south to Nederland, Texas, to serve the Gulf Coast marketplace.

Recent polls indicating that approval ratings for Keystone XL are 60 percent and growing among the American public are proof that people are getting the facts about this important project. The misinformation and scare tactics used by opponents of Keystone XL and all fossil fuel development can only work for so long — and then the facts will get in the way. That’s why increasing numbers of Americans are throwing their support behind Keystone XL.

—Alex Pourbaix, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Pourbaix is TransCanada’s president of energy and oil pipelines.

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