Amid this month’s noise made by the Green New Deniers, it’s almost easy to forget what was, just a few short years ago, the Great Big Policy Debate: Keystone XL. You know, the one where radical liberal communists were trying to destroy the economy and send energy prices skyrocketing by preventing a single oil pipeline from being built? Of course you remember.
Last November, a federal judge in Montana ruled that the Trump administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act with regards to the pipeline--again--by completely ignoring the evidence-based decision the Obama administration made by rejecting the KXL project. The judge ruled that the Trump crew failed to provide a “reasoned” explanation for overturning the Obama administration's finding, and “simply disregarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal.”
Then, last week, PoliticoPRO reported that the Trump administration appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The administration don’t want to have to redo the environmental impact statement, as the Montana judge ruled. While the Politico piece doesn’t explain why, it does note that pipeline developer TransCanada complained back in August that if construction doesn’t begin soon, they’d miss the 2019 season all together.
Now, this doesn’t explicitly prove that the Trump administration wants to ignore the environmental impacts of the pipeline because it’s in a hurry to please polluters at the public’s expense. But the optics sure aren’t great.
And this was before news broke that the pipeline’s broken. On Friday, officials in St. Charles County, Missouri announced that the original, existing Keystone pipeline is likely the source of a newly-identified 1,800-gallon oil leak. Though it appears relatively contained over about 4,000 square feet of land, it’s less than a half mile south of the Mississippi River, justifying worries that a new Keystone XL poses a threat to waterways.
As Sharon Kelly at DeSmog points out, this is the same county where Transcanada had to shut down the pipeline in 2012, after an inspector found that something like 80 percent of the pipeline’s thickness had eroded over a four-mile stretch. In some places it was 95 percent corroded. After only two short years of use, the metal separating oil from environment was so thin that you would need three layers of it stacked together to be as thick as a dime.
Just goes to show that although the pipeline’s going to be making someone a whole lot of dollars, if they can’t be bothered to prove it won’t make climate change worse, or even simply use metal that’s thicker than a third of a dime, building new fossil fuel infrastructure in 2019 just doesn’t make cents.
Top Climate and Clean Energy Stories: