TransCanada to Withdraw Request for Safety Waiver on Keystone Pipeline
TransCanada is withdrawing an application before the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to operate its proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline project, which is slated to run from Alberta Canada to Texas, at a higher pressure. The special permit request had become a lightning rod issue for environmentalists in recent months and has gained more attention in light of the massive pipeline burst and resulting oil spill in Michigan last week.
A spokeswoman for TransCanada confirms that the company is “withdrawing” the special permit request, though she would offer no further details, adding that a formal announcement would be made later this afternoon. Environmentalists say TransCanada is expected to withdraw its request to operate its pipeline at higher than recommended pressures, but will let stand their request to build the pipeline with steel that is thinner than federal regulations require.
While the details and reasons for the withdrawal remain unclear, environmentalists were quick to applaud the development. They note that the process for extracting so-called oil sands from the earth emits high levels of greenhouse gases and, pointing to a recent pipeline burst in Michigan, the environmentalists argue that pipelines are unsafe.
At the same time, environmentalists remain skeptical about TransCanada. Jim Lyon, vice president of the National Wildlife Federation, said in statement:
As pleased as we are to see TransCanada abandoning its plan pump oil at dangerous pressures, this move doesn’t erase the industry’s lousy accident and safety record. This pipeline will still be built with thinner steel that threatens communities, water and wildlife habitat across the American landscape. If anything, this raises more questions about why TransCanada proposed such an irresponsible approach at the outset. We should not be duped by TransCanada. They will do everything to maximize profit at the expense of safety.