Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Latest Salvo in the Keystone Battle

As the Keystone XL pipeline decision day approaches, I thought I'd post this odd but entertaining little video:

The video was created by NextGen Climate Action group, headed by Tom Steyer.  The ad was to run during the Tonight Show during President Obama's appearance on August 6th, 2013, however, NBC rejected the ad because it was determine that "the ad violates our guidelines".  NBC's advertising guidelines state the following about unacceptable content:

 "Unacceptable Content:

An advertisement may be rejected if its content, or other content referenced in the ad or otherwise disseminated by the advertiser, is grossly offensive (e.g., on racial, religious or ethnic grounds). An advertisement may also be rejected if: (1) it is merely an attack of a personal nature, a direct attack on an individual business or a comment on a private dispute; or (2) it contains violent or otherwise graphic or potentially offensive content that is deemed incompatible with a network's viewing environment or general standards; or (3) its content or style of production is otherwise deemed inconsistent with a network’s viewing environment or general standards, as determined by a network in its sole discretion. An acceptance may be subject to limitations regarding time period and type of programming." (my bold)

But apparently, during an election cycle, all network advertising rules are put on hold!

In case you were wondering who Tom Steyer is, he is a 56 year old San Francisco billionaire and former partner in the Farallon Capital Management hedge fund who has made an aggressive move to raise the profile of environmental and energy issues during elections.  According to Forbes, his net worth is $1.4 billion placing him as the 344th richest person in the United States and in 1031st place among the world's billionaires.

As a bit of background, Russ Girling has been the President and CEO of TransCanada Corporation since July 1, 2010.  Even though TransCanada's net income for 2012 dropped by 14.9 percent to $1.299 billion, Mr. Girling's base salary rose by 18 percent to $1.3 million and his total compensation package rose by 17 percent from $6.05 million in 2011 to $7.1 million in 2012.

Here is a map showing TransCanada's existing oil and natural gas pipeline system:

The proposed Keystone XL 1897 kilometer (1179 mile) expansion is expected to expand capacity of the existing Keystone Pipeline System to 1.4 million barrels of oil per day at a total cost of $US5.3 billion as shown on this map:

In closing, here's part of an interesting graphic from Desmogblog showing the history of spills during the first year of operation of the Keystone 1 Pipeline between Hardisty, Alberta and Patoka, Illinois which has been operational since June 2010:

One of these spills, the May 2011 North Dakota spill, was relating to a malfunctioning pipeline fitting according to TransCanada.  Even before it has been commissioned, the Gulf Coast Pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to Nederland, Texas which is scheduled to come on line later this year, is causing quite a bit of grief for TransCanada as shown on this video taken in the Winnsboro, Texas section of the pipe where several dozen repairs have taken place:

From its 2009 Keystone environmental assessment, here is TransCanada's projection of the size and number of spills from the project over a ten year period:

In the report, TransCanada projects that there will be one spill in every 18,600 years in the ecologically sensitive areas of Montana and one in every 1900 years in the ecologically sensitive areas of Nebraska.

Only time will tell whether TransCanada's continued problems with small spills add up to much larger problems, particularly as age takes its toll on the project.  Perhaps NextGen's video will prove to be prophetic. 

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