Tag Archives: TransCanada

‘Historic First’: Nebraska Farmers Return Land to Ponca Tribe in Effort to Block Keystone XL

“We want to protect this land,” said the tribe’s state chairman. “We don’t want to see a pipeline go through.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-15-2018

In a move that could block the path of the Keystone XL pipeline, a couple in Nebraska signed over a portion of farmland to the Ponca Tribe. (Photo: @BoldNebraska/Twitter)

In a move that could challenge the proposed path of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline—and acknowledges the U.S. government’s long history of abusing Native Americans and forcing them off their lands—a Nebraska farm couple has returned a portion of ancestral land to the Ponca Tribe.

At a deed-signing ceremony earlier this week, farmers Art and Helen Tanderup transferred to the tribe a 1.6-acre plot of land that falls on Ponca “Trail of Tears.” Continue reading


As Predicted—Because ‘Pipelines Are Bound to Spill’—Existing Keystone Gushes 200K Gallons of Oil

‘With their horrible safety record, today’s spill is just the latest tragedy caused by the irresponsible oil company TransCanada.’

By Jon Queally, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-16-2017

Those who had warned against the pipeline’s approval for precisely these reasons and continue to worked tirelessly to prevent the construction of the Keystone XL (KXL) project, were among the first to respond to Thursday’s spill. (Photo: Tar Sands Blockade)

Some of the worst fears and dire predictions of opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline came true on Thursday when pipeline owner TransCanada announced that more than 200,000 gallons of oil had spilled from the existing portion of the Keystone system in Marshall County, South Dakota.

While the company reported the spill in a public statementBuzzfeed notes there was an approximately four-and-a-half hour gap between when the company said the breach was discovered at 6:00 am and when local officials say they were notified at 10:30 am.  As a South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources told the news outlet, “We’re not quite sure why there was a time gap in there.” Continue reading


‘This Is My Act of Love’: Climate Activists Shut Down All US-Canada Tar Sands Pipelines

Coordinated show of resistance executed in solidarity with those fighting against Dakota Access pipeline

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-11-2016

Michael Foster, 52, pictured here, said, "All of our climate victories are meaningless if we don’t stop extracting oil, coal and gas now." (Photo: Shutitdown.today)

Michael Foster, 52, pictured here, said, “All of our climate victories are meaningless if we don’t stop extracting oil, coal and gas now.” (Photo: Shutitdown.today)

Five activists shut down all the tar sands pipelines crossing the Canada-U.S. border Tuesday morning, in a bold, coordinated show of climate resistance amid the ongoing fight against the Dakota Access pipeline.

The activists employed manual safety valves to shut down Enbridge’s line 4 and 67 in Leonard, Minnesota; TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline in Walhalla, North Dakota; Spectra Energy’s Express pipeline in Coal Banks Landing, Montana; and Kinder-Morgan’s Trans-Mountain pipeline in Anacortes, Washington. Continue reading


‘They’re Trying to Poison Our Future,’ Resistance Heats Up to Stop ‘Black Snake’ From Slithering Through Midwest

Native tribes, landowners, environmental activists trying to stop pipeline that rivals Keystone XL in length

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-12-2016

Sioux youth from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota rallied with supporters in Union Square [in New York] after running 2,000 miles across the United States to protest the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. (Photo and caption: Joe Catron/flickr/cc))

Sioux youth from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota rallied with supporters in Union Square [in New York] after running 2,000 miles across the United States to protest the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. (Photo and caption: Joe Catron/flickr/cc))

Resistance against a new Bakken crude pipeline stepped up this week with the arrest of 12 people on Thursday near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota.

“They’re trying to lay a pipe across our water. They’re trying to poison our future,” said one of the people taking part in the action.

YouTube user UrbanNativeEra posted this video of the event: Continue reading


Worse Than Keystone XL? TransCanada’s Terrifying “Plan B”

“TransCanada’s Energy East proposal is truly Keystone XL on steroids,” says Natural Resources Defense Council

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-26-2016

Over the course of a single year, the NRDC states, tankers could carry 328 million barrels of tar sands oil down the East Coast—enough oil to fill more than 20,000 Olympic pools. (Photo: Andrew Priest/flickr/cc)

Over the course of a single year, the NRDC states, tankers could carry 328 million barrels of tar sands oil down the East Coast—enough oil to fill more than 20,000 Olympic pools. (Photo: Andrew Priest/flickr/cc)

The pipeline giant TransCanada, stymied in its attempt to drive Keystone XL through America’s heartland, is facing renewed opposition to its “new and equally misguided proposal” to build the Energy East pipeline across Canada and ship tar sands oil via tankers along the U.S. East Coast to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

In partnership with a number of Canadian and U.S. environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)—a major player in the fight to defeat Keystone XL—on Tuesday released a new report outlining how Energy East would “effectively create a waterborne tar sands pipeline with hundreds of new oil tankers traversing the Atlantic coastline, making vast areas of the Eastern Seaboard vulnerable to a dangerous tar sands spill.” Continue reading


The Pipeline Strikes Back: the audacity of TransCanada’s $15b suit against the U.S.

The political saga of the Keystone XL pipeline is like a real-life version of The Force Awakens. So why are we giving the Dark Side even more power?

By Jim Shultz. Published 2-5-16 by openDemocracy

The Empire Strikes Back. Credit: starwars.wikia.com.

The Empire Strikes Back. Credit: starwars.wikia.com.

In case you didn’t notice, the new blockbuster Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, ends pretty much the same way the first one did when it came out in the summer of 1977. The bad guys build a Death Star machine that can kill whole planets, the good guys fight back with pluck and grit, and, just in the nick of time, destroy the machine.

The political saga of the Keystone XL pipeline has followed essentially the same plot. TransCanada (playing the role of the Empire) sought to build a metal tunnel from Alberta to the Gulf Coast to transport oil from the Canadian tar sands. The pipeline, not unlike a Death Star, threatened the planet because it would have amped up carbon emissions and quickened the pace of global climate change. In the Keystone saga, pluck and grit came in the form of protests, lawsuits, arrests, and the encirclement of the White House—the equivalent of a Jedi counter-attack. Continue reading


Stick a Fork In It – The End of Keystone XL

Photo by chesapeakeclimate (8/22/11 Uploaded by Ekabhishek) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by chesapeakeclimate (8/22/11 Uploaded by Ekabhishek) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

On Monday afternoon, TransCanada announced that it had asked the State Department to suspend its permit application review process for the Keystone XL pipeline project. The request was made in a letter to Secretary of State john Kerry,

TransCanada had faced multiple lawsuits in Nebraska over the pipeline’s route through the state and over who in the state had final authority to grant final approval on that route. Back in September, TransCanada dropped ongoing lawsuits against Nebraska landowners and agreed to submit a review proposal to Nebraska’s Public Service Commission.

In the letter, the company noted that that the review is expected to take seven to 12 months, and went on to say:

“In order to allow time for certainty regarding the Nebraska route, TransCanada requests that the State Department pause in its review of the Presidential Permit application for Keystone XL. This will allow a decision on the permit to be made later based on certainty with respect to the route of the pipeline.”

In a statement published on the TransCanada website, Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer, said:

“We are asking State to pause its review of Keystone XL based on the fact that we have applied to the Nebraska Public Service Commission for approval of its preferred route in the state. I note that when the status of the Nebraska pipeline route was challenged last year, the State Department found it appropriate to suspend its review until that dispute was resolved. We feel under the current circumstances a similar suspension would be appropriate.”

Opponents to the pipeline pointed out that the pipeline’s route wouldn’t ultimately alter the pipeline’s effect. Tom Steyer said that instead of granting a delay, the Obama administration should “immediately reject” the pipeline.

350.org founder Bill McKibben said in a statement:

“Clearly TransCanada has lost and they recognize that. It’s one of the great victories for this movement in decades. In defeat, TransCanada is asking for extra time from the referees, and clearly hoping they’ll get a new head official after the election. It’s time for the current umpire, President Obama, to reject this project once and for all, and go to Paris as the first world leader to stop a major project because of its effect on the climate.”

Personally, we really don’t think it makes much difference at this point. The collapse of the oil market has pretty much made Keystone XL an unprofitable venture for the foreseeable future. As long as oil is trading for under $80 or $90 a barrel, there’s no profit in refining tar sands oil. Yesterday, the one year forecast for WTI crude was $53 a barrel.

That being said, the pipeline would have been a reality if it hadn’t been for activists in Nebraska, Canada and elsewhere letting it be known that it wasn’t OK. it wasn’t OK to try to use eminent domain to take people’s land away from them. It wasn’t OK to pollute the waters and forests around the tar sands. It wasn’t OK to poison the planet.

Occupy World Writes salutes those activists. We the People can make our voices heard. We the People have power.

Our destiny is in our hands.


Sensing Keystone XL Rejection, TransCanada Scopes NAFTA Lawsuit

Provisions in trade pact may provide legal basis for suing U.S. over tar sands pipeline

Written by Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-10-15.

A tar sands site in Alberta, Canada. (Photo: kris krüg/flickr/cc)

A tar sands site in Alberta, Canada. (Photo: kris krüg/flickr/cc)

TransCanada Corporation, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, is furtively planning its next steps—including suing the U.S. government—if U.S. President Barack Obama rejects the permits which would allow construction of the project to move forward, the Canadian Press reported on Monday.

While the company has publicly maintained hope that Obama will grant it permission to build the pipeline, those close to the project say TransCanada expects a rejection and is quietly considering suing the government under the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), using articles in the pact that protect companies from discrimination, unfair or arbitrary treatment, and expropriation.

NAFTA also includes a mechanism known as the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), which allows corporations to sue a country for damages based on projected “lost profits” and “expected future profits.” As Common Dreams has previously reported, there are no monetary caps to the potential award.

Experts have warned that TransCanada could bring a NAFTA challenge over Keystone XL. Natural Resources Defense Council international program director Jake Schmidt told Politico in February that such a case was “definitely a possibility.”

Derek Burney, former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. and chief negotiator on the trade deal, as well as its U.S.-Canada predecessor, told Politico at the time, “If the pipeline is actually vetoed on so-called environmental grounds, I think there is a very strong case for a NAFTA challenge.”

But would suing the government under NAFTA work? It’s unlikely.

The Canadian Press continues:

The U.S. government has a 13-0 record in NAFTA cases. A suit would likely fail, cost the company a few million dollars, and possibly antagonize the U.S. government, said David Gantz, who was been a panelist on NAFTA cases and who teaches trade law at the University of Arizona.

….But another expert said the company might as well try. She said a recent decision against the Canadian government in the Bilcon case involving a Nova Scotia quarry could give TransCanada some hope.

“Why not? And see where it goes,” said Debra Steger[.]

Another option on TransCanada’s radar is immediately filing another permit application with the U.S. State Department ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a corporate-friendly agreement between the U.S. and 12 Pacific Rim nations which has been described as “NAFTA on steroids,” have cautioned against including an ISDS mechanism in the still-pending deal.

“Given NAFTA’s record of damage, it is equal parts disgusting and infuriating that now President Barack Obama has joined the corporate Pinocchios who lied about NAFTA in recycling similar claims to try to sell the [TPP],” Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, said in February.

Whenever the announcement comes, the source on the project told the Canadian Press, TransCanada will “let it cool for a while. And then we’d have this more vigorous discussion.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.


How Not To Be Awakened

TransCanada Building, Calgary. Photo by Qyd (talk · contribs) (Own work (Own photo)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

TransCanada Building, Calgary. Photo by Qyd (talk · contribs) (Own work (Own photo)) CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

In case you’ve never noticed (or if you’re new here), we write a lot about pipelines. Like any other addict who knows that his or her habit is bad for their health, but continues with it anyways, we as a society are dependent on our fossil fuels. As with any other addiction, there’s an infrastructure in place for getting the product (in this case, oil and/or gas) into the hands of the addict. And, just as in the drug trade, there’s often what the military calls “collateral damage” among the residents of the area where such infrastructure is operating.

On Tuesday, we saw a prime example of this in Benton Township, Michigan. Sometime around 2 AM, a natural gas line operated by TransCanada (yes, the same company whose oil is the prime mover of the Keystone XL proposal) started leaking. This in turn led to an evacuation of residents within a one mile area of the leak  – such a wonderful thing to wake up to, no?

Vic Rogers, who lives on the property where the leak occurred, described what happened; “If you ever hear lightning strike and hear the big boom afterwards that’s what it sounded like. After that it was like a train or a jet engine roar. Everything started to shake and vibrate I looked out the window and I could see this plume of black debris.”

15 hours later, the approximately 500 people who had evacuated were allowed to return home. Yesterday, TransCanada went into full damage control mode. TransCanada spokesperson Gretchen Krueger said; “Our focus right now is on the community and on people, Yesterday was responding to the event and today is responding to the community and we want to be here for them to answer those questions.” It seems to us as if we’ve heard this exact same script recited by the gas and oil companies before – I wonder if TransCanada has the walrus listed in their response plan too. But, I digress…

Pipelines leak. It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when and how much. TransCanada doesn’t have a stellar record as far as safety goes, either. In late 2012, the Canadian national energy-industry regulator (NEB) announced that it was performing a major audit of TransCanada’s Canadian operations after confirming a whistleblower’s story documenting repeated violations of pipeline safety regulations.

Last summer in testimony before a Canadian Senate committee, Evan Vokes, a pipeline safety whistleblower and materials engineer, said that TransCanada “has a culture of non-compliance,” which he blamed on a “mix of politics and commercial interests that has resulted in false public claims of exceptional industry practice when the reality is that industry struggles to comply with code and regulation.” In other words, business as usual.

Accidents like this are a prime example of why Keystone XL is a bad idea. We can’t trust TransCanada to be proactive as far as the environment goes, and their safety record is lackadaisical, to put it mildly. The pipeline has no upside for America whatsoever; we’d be carrying Canadian tar sands oil down to the Gulf refineries to be processed and exported on the global market. The reduced refinery capacity brought about by the tar sand oil having priority could lead to higher gas prices here ion the US. And, the profit goes back to Canada, while we assume all the risk.

Does that sound like a good deal to you? We thought not…


TransCanada: Go Pound Tar Sand

Photo collage by Jungbim (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo collage by Jungbim (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

Now that the time period for public comment has past, we thought we’d take a look at the multinational company, TransCanada, to get an idea of what we can expect should the Keystone XL project be approved.

We were not impressed.

TransCanada reported 2013 net income at $1.7 billion USD, with total assets of $54 billion, and capital expenditures and investments were reported at $5 billion.

Keystone XL is the last leg of the planned projects to move tar sands oil to the coast for shipment to world markets after refinement. The southern leg, called the Gulf Coast Project, was completed and began flowing with Canadian tar sands diluted bitumen even before the inspection process was completed and approved. “Anomalies” (factually known as defects in construction or material) on this portion of the pipeline were not repaired before TransCanada started the flow. The Gulf Coast portion runs from Cushing, OK to Port Arthur, Texas.

The Gulf Coast portion of TransCanada’s pipeline was built by breaking laws and regulations. When an injunction to halt the progress until concerns could be addressed was filed, it was rejected and the courts ruled that “the threatened environmental injuries were outweighed by the financial harm that the injunction would cause Transcanada,” according to a report from Common Dreams by Steve Horn, in October of 2013. It should be noted that two of the three judges making this ruling were appointed by George H. Bush and George W. Bush during their presidential terms.

Also at issue is the methods by which TransCanada gains cooperation and tromps all over any regulations and permit processes. And they don’t have to look far to find willing regulators; “The Corps is abusing the nationwide permit program (NWP 12). Nationwide permits were intended to permit categories of projects with truly minimal impacts, not tar sands oil pipelines crossing several states,” said attorney Doug Hayes.

Horn’s report continues, “Utilizing tricky legal loopholes, Transcanada used NWP 12 to push through Keystone XL’s southern half in February 2012, calling each half acre segment of Keystone XL’s southern half a “single and complete project.” The Army Corps of Engineers agreed despite the fact that Transcanada refers to the pipeline at-large as the “Gulf Coast Pipeline project.”

A pipeline waterway crossing. Photo by Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A pipeline waterway crossing. Photo by Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“What the Corps is doing is artificially dividing up these massive pipelines, treating them as thousands of individual projects to avoid environmental review,” Hayes explained. “In this case, there were 2,227 crossings of federal waterways, so the Corps has treated the Gulf Coast Pipeline as 2,227 ‘single and complete projects,’ each of which qualifies under NWP 12.”

(There is) “real and significant harm caused by the actual construction of the pipeline, including the clearing of trees and vegetation, removing topsoil, filling wetlands, building access roads, and clearing an eighty-five foot construction right-of-way for the length of the pipeline.”  But the main legal question – whether TransCanada violated the law by using NWP instead of NEPA for regulation of the Gulf Coast Project’s construction – remains unaddressed to this day.

Also in contention is the question of how TransCanada, an international Canadian-based company, was able to use “eminent domain” laws to force unwilling landowners to give them access to building the pipeline through the state of Nebraska. At issue here are 5th Amendment rights; “public use” requires that the property taken be used to benefit the public rather than specific individuals. If SCOTUS has determined that corporations are “individuals,” then we argue this negates any benefits from “public use” and advantages gained through use of eminent domain laws. The “public” does not benefit, only the corporation and its shareholders. The majority of Americans object to this project, and no one will benefit; rather we will all pay a very high cost overall if this project is approved.

But that is just the beginning of the problems we found when looking at TransCanada’s inability to play well with others and their propensity to run with scissors.

And Look! No Emmissions! Photo by eryn.rickard (Flickr: Oilsands1) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

And Look! No Emissions! Photo by eryn.rickard (Flickr: Oilsands1) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

While Mayflower, AR continues to grapple with the aftermath of a pipeline leak in their community, and we have seen two explosions of pipelines within two years of their construction and being brought online, we must also examine some of the other major concerns TransCanda presents, as well as debunk the myths they continue to put forth.

In a report from CBC News – Edmunton, TransCanada has been accused of non-compliance with pipeline engineering code by Evan Vokes, a former engineer with the company who said the company was using substandard pipeline welding and inspection practices. The National Energy Board released its final audit for the company’s pipelines integrity program recently, which validated many of Vokes’ complaints from 2011. Vokes has been terminated by TransCanada, a decision made in retaliation for his whistle blowing. “Nobody stood up,” Vokes said. “Professional engineers have a duty of care to society. People should have stood up.”

But wait – there is still more headlines the US corporate media does not want you to see (remember who corporate partners are…):

CNRL Horizon processing plant in the Athabasca Oil Sands of Alberta, Canada. Burn from the 2011 Richardson Fire visible in foreground. Photo by The Interior (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

CNRL Horizon processing plant in the Athabasca Oil Sands of Alberta, Canada. Burn from the 2011 Richardson Fire visible in foreground. Photo by The Interior (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

ST. PIERRE-JOLYS, Manitoba, Canada,  January 27, 2014 (ENS) – A TransCanada natural gas pipeline ruptured and exploded early Saturday morning in an isolated area near the town of Otterburne, 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of Winnipeg. The pre-dawn pipeline break and resulting explosion sent a massive fireball into the night sky.
TransCanada investigates natural gas pipeline leak in northern Alberta, Service on a natural gas pipeline that feeds oilsands producers in northern Alberta has been mostly restored after being disrupted by a leak. “TransCanada has confirmed that its response personnel successfully isolated the pipeline break section that occurred… on our North Central Corridor system, and has now resumed delivery of natural gas to most of its industrial customers in the area,” said spokesman Shawn Howard. The cause of the leak was still undetermined at the time operation resumed.
Expect More Unreported Pipeline Leaks: “TransCanada said it will refuse using state-of-the-art detection equipment on the Keystone XL pipeline”: Companies, like TransCanada, can easily afford the extra expense of better detection equipment, but they would rather save money, “fearing higher costs and false alarms.” TransCanada said it will refuse using state-of-the-art detection equipment on the Keystone XL pipeline.
It’s Crazy To Think Keystone XL Won’t Leak Forbes magazine article leaks the truth; “With over 16,000 sensors tied to automatic shut-offs, the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline (as in Xtra-Large) is not your father’s pipeline. However, it’s still a pipeline, and the long history of ruptures, leaks, spills and other “incidents” call attention to the problems that face all pipelines in America. We just don’t maintain them like we should.”

We think you are getting the picture here. But if you think there is nothing more we can do, let us introduce you to Bold Nebraska, an organization that unites people and provides resources and facts regarding the Keystone XL pipeline as it crosses Nebraska. Along with information on actions and resources that are fighting the approval of this project, they include a wealth of information regarding Transcanada’s performance and record of “good intention” of operating with safety and enivironmental issues as a priority. Included in their remarks is, “TransCanada’s first pipeline leaked 14 times in 12 months. The worst spill was over 21,000 gallons of tar sands oil and toxic chemicals that happened in North Dakota. TransCanada’s leak detection system did not work because when a landowner called to report the spill the operator thought he was joking.”

Coming Soon: Learn more about the Harper Administration’s policy toward First Nations peoples as the government continues plans to develop traditional aboriginal lands despite opposition and with total disregard for native rights.