BILLINGS, Mont. — Opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada said the Trump administration is understating the potential for the line to break and spill into water bodies such as Montana’s Missouri River, as the U.S. State Department held the sole public meeting Tuesday on a new environmental review of the long-stalled proposal.
Backers say the $8 billion project would create thousands of construction jobs and boost local tax revenues. Sponsor TC Energy insists the line would be safe, despite spills on other lines operated by the company.
A federal judge blocked it last year, saying more environmental study was needed.
President Donald Trump issued a presidential permit for the line in March in a bid to avoid another
The Republican has been a strong supporter and revived the project after it was rejected under President Barack Obama, in part over worries it would make climate change worse.
Tuesday’s meeting, held at a conference
Keystone supporter Todd Tibbetts said the line would cross through his farm near Terry, Montana. Tibbett is already getting paid by project sponsor TC Energy for a pipe storage yard the company built on his property.
“Keystone is a wonderful
Montana state Sen. Frank Smith says the 1,200-mile (
“Obama did a really thorough investigation and decided it wouldn’t work,” Smith said. “If it gets into (downstream water supplies) how long will it take to flush those lines out?”
Smith and other pipeline opponents criticized the format of the meeting, which included a designated “free speech area,” located just outside of the convention
Keystone XL would be a 36-inch (91-
Burning that oil would release annually between 2.3 million and 196 million tons (2.1 million up to 178 million metric tons) of additional greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, according to the State Department analysis. That’s equivalent at the high end to almost 3% of total U.S. emissions.
The broad range reflects uncertainty over how much crude from Keystone XL would displace existing oil supplies.
Rivers crossed by the line include the Missouri and the Yellowstone, which has twice experienced major oil spills. Both are prone to scouring during flooding. That means the river bottom gets scraped by the floodwaters, leaving buried pipelines exposed.
TC Energy spokesman Terry Cunha said Keystone XL would be tunneled at least 25 feet (7.6
“The studies continue to demonstrate or highlight that the project can be built safely, and that is our key priority,” Cunha said.
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Matthew Brown, The Associated Press