National Transportation Safety Board

Southern Keystone XL Pipeline Blockaded

Just when it seemed that the Keystone XL pipeline was on hold, TransCanada Corp. segmented the project and the U.S. government fast-tracked the environmental review process. This allows TransCanada to begin construction on the southern part of the Keystone XL this summer.

With a nonviolent direct action camp that started July 27, 2012 in East Texas, grassroots opponents are working on a construction project of their own: Tar Sands Blockade, a coalition of landowners, community members, students, and others dedicated to stopping the pipeline through direct action.

To read all about this new front in the battle to prevent the Keystone XL Pipeline–pet project of Koch Industries – please click here

The Fight for the Keystone XL Pipeline Moves to Canada

Keystone Moves North, Where Big Oil Is Losing

Obama may have stopped the U.S. pipeline, but now the fight has shifted to Canada.  Canadians, it turns out, don’t want a new pipeline any more than Americans do.


The Northern Gateway pipeline would slice through 700 miles of environmentally sensitive land in western Canada, exposing ecological treasures like the Great Bear Rainforest to major oil spills. In Alberta alone, there were 687 pipeline failures in 2010. Three spills in a single month last spring dumped 400,000 gallons of oil – including 132,000 gallons into a river that provides drinking water to Alberta residents.


ExxonMobil, Koch Industries and other oil giants currently produce some 1.6 million barrels of oil a day from the tar sands in northern Alberta. The oil – it’s more of an acidic, corrosive goo – is expensive to extract, dangerous to transport and more damaging to the climate than conventional oil. The problem is, the oil companies want to triple their production over the next 20 years – but existing pipelines will reach full capacity in only three years. And if you can’t move the oil, you can’t sell it.


Even more damning is what the report, issued by the National Transportation Safety Board, reveals about Enbridge’s mishandling of the spill. The NTSB noted that the company’s inspectors had found hairline fractures in the pipeline five years before the spill, but did nothing about it. What’s worse, oil oozed out of the pipeline for 17 hours without being detected by operators at Enbridge’s high-tech control room, which is outfitted with sensors to prevent exactly such an oversight. (The spill went undetected until a utility worker happened to wander by the pipeline and noticed the gushing oil.) In the report, NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman cites “a complete breakdown of safety at Enbridge,” adding that the firm’s employees “performed like Keystone Kops” during the emergency.


But it is the opposition of Canada’s original inhabitants that may ultimately doom the pipeline. The chiefs of more than 100 First Nations tribes, who control half of the land that the Northern Gateway would traverse, have signed a declaration to stop the project, calling it “a grave threat” to their lands and waters. “We will defend our rights, no matter what bully tactics the federal government throws at us,” declared Jackie Thomas, chief of the Saik’uz First Nation, issuing what could prove to be the death knell for the pipeline. “Enbridge will never be allowed in our lands.”

This story is from the August 16th, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.  To read this article in its entirety, please click here