Guest Column: TransCanada responds to Keystone XL guest column

Editor’s note: The following is in response to the Aug. 14-20 guest column, “President should reject Keystone XL,” by Dave Davis.

By James Millar
Manager, External Communications, TransCanada

I would like to respond to several of the misleading statements made by Mr. Davis and provide the facts about TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline and the proposed Keystone XL project.

We appreciate Mr. Davis’ interest in Keystone XL and the Canadian oil sands. However, some of the statements made about the oil sands and TransCanada in a recent letter are misleading, and we hope to offer some additional context in response.

Canada is the only major oil supplier to the United States that has strict environmental regulations, puts a price on carbon emissions and protects the rights and freedoms of workers. The techniques used to produce the oil sands are similar to the techniques used to extract heavy crude in California and Venezuela. The entire oil sands industry, which employs tens of thousands of people and generates billions of dollars of wealth throughout North America, contributes less than one-fifth of 1 percent of global GHGs. An important study conducted by two of Canada’s premier climate scientists, Andrew Weaver and Neil Swart, found that burning all the oil sands bitumen in existence (a near impossible feat) would add only 0.36 C to world temperatures.

TransCanada has one of the best safety records in the entire industry, a record we are immensely proud of that record. When Mr. Davis mentioned the incidents on Keystone 1 at our above-ground pump stations, he neglected to mention that the average amount of oil spilled was 5 gallons, enough fuel to fill a pickup truck, and virtually all of that oil was contained to our property. There have been no issues with the integrity of the pipe below ground, and today, Keystone 1 has safely delivered more than 400 million barrels of crude oil to Illinois and Oklahoma.

When you look at TransCanada’s history of operations in the United States, you’ll realize that we aren’t that “foreign” at all. TransCanada has operated in the United States for decades. Nearly half of our 5,000 employees are based in 33 states across the U.S., and during the construction of projects like Keystone XL and the Gulf Coast Pipeline, we employ thousands more.

Mr. Davis may also be interested to know that TransCanada built and operates the largest wind farm in Maine, operates 13 hydro power facilities in the U.S. Northeast and has invested more than $5 billion in renewable and emission-less projects in North America, including solar and nuclear power.

Given our expertise in these areas, we are well positioned to help North America transition to a low-carbon energy future. But, we also know that the United States still requires millions of barrels of oil a day and will for the foreseeable future. What Americans deserve is the safest, most technologically sophisticated and environmentally responsible infrastructure to transport it. That’s what Keystone XL is.

What Keystone XL is not is “a monster” or “game over for the climate.” Harvard climate scientist David Keith said Dr. Hansen’s “extreme statements — that this [KXL] is ‘game over’ for the planet — are clearly not intellectually true.” Ken Caldeira, a climate researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California, said, “I don’t believe that whether the pipeline is built or not will have any detectable climate effect.”

Keystone XL is a fundamental choice for a $5.3-billion state-of-the-art energy infrastructure project that will enhance energy security, displace nearly a million barrels of OPEC oil and support more than 40,000 direct and indirect jobs without any material effect on greenhouse gases. Or, Americans can continue to import higher-priced, “conflict oil” from the Middle East and Venezuela — where American values and interests are not shared or respected.

From the Aug. 21-27, 2013, issue