Stillwater, Oklahoma —
Homer argued that existing segments of the pipeline have already leaked almost a dozen times and there are few assurances about future leaks. Homer said she worried about drilling and refining tar sands crude oil, which she contends is more ruinous for the environment than traditional crude.
Deborah Hirt has seen oil spills first hand. Hirt relocated to Stillwater 18 months ago from the East Coast. While there, she worked every morning for 10 weeks washing oil-covered birds that were affected by the 2004 Athos I oil tanker spill that washed into the Delaware River.
“These things will happen and will continue to happen as long as we are dealing with oil,” Hirt said.
She said she wished politicians would see the wide-ranging damage from oil spills first hand and realize the long-lasting consequences before they approve projects like the Keystone XL.
“I personally think it’s a mistake,” Hirt said. “Quite frankly, until someone is involved in an oil spill, you don’t have a clue.”
In late January, Dunlap was asked about some of the environmental concerns surrounding the project. He acknowledged the existing line has had leaks but said those occurred at pump stations, built on three to five acres of land that the company owns. He said no oil was spilled outside TransCanada property.
Dunlap said the Keystone line is more high tech and less prone to leaks than numerous pipelines already in service. He also argued that tar sands oil burns the same way other oil does and the reputation it has been given is “another effort to discredit what’s coming down the line.”
TransCanada has built two phases of the Keystone pipeline, a 30-inch line that connects Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, with Patoka, Ill., and Cushing. The company is looking to build the third and fourth phases of the Keystone XL pipeline — named for the proposed line’s 36-inch diameter — to connect oil reserves in Cushing with refineries in Texas and to increase capacity from Hardisty to other strategic points.