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The Washington Independent

Keystone XL safety pledge written off as bare minimum

One of the most common arguments offered by the State Department and proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline is that the project will be safer than other pipelines because TransCanada has agreed to 57 conditions outside the normal regulations. The Natural Resources Defense Council, which opposes the pipeline, says an analysis of those conditions found that the vast majority of them are identical to the minimum safeguards already written into the law: An analysis of the fifty-seven ‘special conditions’ which the Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Materials Administration (PHMSA) suggested reveals them for what they are – a public relations stunt taken at the public’s expense

Jaya Mckeown
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Sep 20, 2011

One of the most common arguments offered by the State Department and proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline is that the project will be safer than other pipelines because TransCanada has agreed to 57 conditions outside the normal regulations.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which opposes the pipeline, says an analysis of those conditions found that the vast majority of them are identical to the minimum safeguards already written into the law:

An analysis of the fifty-seven ‘special conditions’ which the Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Materials Administration (PHMSA) suggested reveals them for what they are – a public relations stunt taken at the public’s expense. It turns out that the majority of these conditions fall into three categories.

The first category includes twenty-eight conditions that repeat bare minimum safety standards that either PHMSA, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) or Canada already require TransCanada to comply with as a matter of law. This includes measures like meeting minimum strength requirements, putting down markers or inspecting the pipeline route at least twenty-six times a year.

The second category includes twelve conditions that TransCanada must take to ensure that Keystone XL isn’t actually operating below legal safety standards. For instance, testing to try to prevent problems with defective steel that were encountered with Keystone I. Or making sure that TransCanada isn’t using parts that aren’t rated for the pipeline’s operating pressure.

In the third category are the five conditions that require TransCanada to keep records and report to PHMSA its progress in complying with these voluntary ‘special conditions.’

That leaves a dozen conditions that actually differ in some way with minimum standards.

The New York Times reported last week that the PMHSA is unprepared to adequately regulate even the existing pipelines. The recent spill of 42,000 gallons of tar sands oil into the Yellowstone River took place only a few weeks after both the owner of the pipeline and the federal regulators certified that it was safe.

Jaya Mckeown | Jaya moved to Boston from New York to pursue a master's degree in corporate communications at Emerson College. This experience, combined with her undergraduate degree in psychology and teaching, has equipped her with valuable skills that she employs on a daily basis in real estate negotiations, homebuyer and seller education, and successful promotion of the team's listings. Jaya's clients often characterize her as meticulous, proactive, and enjoyable to be around.

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