Friday, March 25, 2011

Proposed U.S.-Canada Oil Pipeline Fuels Debate

09:02 PM
By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY

David Daniel found his piece of paradise on 20 acres in east Texas, complete with a hardwood forest of oak, hickory and elm and three spring-fed creeks that burble year-round. "I drink out of the creeks. It's that clean," says Daniel, a carpenter who built a house for his family on the land. He sees his refuge in peril. A proposed oil pipeline "would cut my property in half and tear up the wetlands," says Daniel, who has rallied fellow U.S. landowners against the $6 billion project.

In this David vs. Goliath tale, what happens in Winnsboro, Texas, may hinge on events thousands of miles away. Unrest in the Middle East could affect whether the Obama administration allows a 1,661 -mile underground pipeline carrying a controversial form of heavy crude oil to slice through the United States from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast. Canada supplies more crude oil to the United States than any other country.

Because the pipeline crosses a U.S. border, it needs a permit from the State Department, which pleased the project's critics last week by announcing it would further study the environmental impact. The department said it plans to issue a draft of that review next month and make a final decision by year's end.

"The nation's energy security does play a role in the decision-making process," says department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson.

The proposed extension of the Keystone oil pipeline would run from Alberta, Canada, southeast through several U.S. states toward refineries near Houston. The privately funded project, known as Keystone XL, would expand an existing 2,154-mile pipeline that runs from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Neb., and then east to Patoka, Ill. The expansion would snake southeast through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma to oil refineries near Houston.

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