The Government of Saskatchewan is deeply concerned with the United States (U.S.) State Department’s announcement that it will delay its final decision on the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline, even though the project has already passed the State Department’s own rigorous environmental impact assessment.
“This decision by the U.S. government is a major disappointment,” Premier Brad Wall said. “The Keystone XL pipeline has been studied long and hard. The pipeline will create thousands of jobs on both sides of the border, offers a safe and efficient method of moving large volumes of oil, and according to the State Department will not contribute to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions. This delay represents a major blow to the energy industry in Saskatchewan and in Canada and will place unnecessary strain on relations with our largest trading partner.”
Last Friday, the State Department announced it would delay approval of the 2,700 kilometre pipeline in order to provide eight federal agencies additional time to review the proposed project and clear any legal challenges to the Nebraska leg of the pipeline.
A portion of the Keystone XL project would run through the province – providing jobs to Saskatchewan people and freeing-up pipeline capacity so that more Saskatchewan oil can enter the North American pipeline system.
Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline is especially important for Saskatchewan, considering the grain transportation challenges Saskatchewan producers are facing because a large number of rail cars have been diverted to ship oil.
“Saskatchewan grain, potash, and other commodities suffer every day the Keystone XL pipeline is not being built,” Wall said. “The United States needs to quit wavering and make a decision based on the facts, which support the construction of Keystone. These politically motivated decisions are hurting the Saskatchewan economy, the U.S. economy, and our ability to develop new markets and support North America energy sustainability.”
Wall noted that news of another delay in the Keystone approval process comes as rail shipments of crude oil throughout North America continue to grow, along with the environmental hazards associated with those shipments.
In the U.S., rail shipments of oil grew by more than 4,000 per cent from 2008 to 2013 - from 9,500 carloads to an estimated 400,000 carloads in just five years, according to the Association of American Railroads.
In 2013, more crude oil - 4.35 million litres - was spilled in U.S. railway incidents than in the past 37 years combined, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.