The Keystone XL Pipeline: Background information when reading This Blessed Earth

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This Blessed Earth

A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm

by Ted Genoways

This Blessed Earth by Ted Genoways X
This Blessed Earth by Ted Genoways
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2017, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2018, 240 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster

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The Keystone XL Pipeline

This article relates to This Blessed Earth

Print Review

Keystone pipeline near Swanton, Nebraska The Keystone Pipeline is a 36-inch-diameter oil pipeline between Alberta, Canada and Texas. It transports 550,000 barrels of crude oil from Canada to refineries and distribution centers in the United States every day. It was constructed in three phases, with the first – stretching to southern Nebraska and then across to two refineries in Illinois – completed in 2010. Extensions to Oklahoma and onwards to Texas were finished in 2011 and 2014, respectively. The pipeline now crosses eight states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Keystone Pipeline Route Keystone was in the news in 2016 and 2017 because of the controversial XL (for "export limited") expansion. This supplementary pipeline, running from Alberta directly to southern Nebraska and connecting with the previous route, could carry an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day and would cut through Montana, South Dakota, and new parts of Nebraska – raising concerns for central Nebraskan farmers such as the Hammond family, whom Ted Genoways profiles in This Blessed Earth.

XL was proposed in 2009 but ultimately rejected by President Barack Obama – on the advice of the Environmental Protection Agency – in November 2015. The administration cited the environmental ramifications for the sensitive Sandhills prairie region of Nebraska (not to mention the harsh mining effects on Alberta's tar sands), as well as the limited evidence that the project would provide long-term employment or solve the issue of American energy dependency. An increased contribution to global warming and passage through sacred Native American territories were additional concerns.

Protests against Keystone XL Pipeline for tar sands at White House Contrast this with the statements issued by Keystone officials. The website says: "This pipeline is a critical infrastructure project for the economic strength and energy security of the United States" and "Once operational, KXL will … safely deliver the oil that fuels your everyday [sic]." TransCanada Corporation, an energy company based in Calgary, is the project's owner, and promises a $55.6 million boost in property taxes for the three states involved, as well as the creation of tens of thousands of well-paid jobs.

In March 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order permitting construction on the Keystone XL Pipeline to continue. However, approval is still needed from state regulators in Nebraska. TransCanada executive vice-president Paul Miller is reported to be unsure about whether XL will proceed. "In November [2017], we'll make an assessment of commercial support and [Nebraska] approval," he said. For one thing, it appears that demand has dropped since the fall in oil prices in 2014. Moreover, the opposition from Nebraska's ranchers, farmers, and environmentalists is still going strong. Only time will tell if the proposed expansion will become a reality.

Picture of Keystone Pipeline by Shannon Patrick
Picture of Keystone Pipeline protests by Chesapeake Climate
Picture of Keystone Pipeline route from Wikimedia.

This "beyond the book article" relates to This Blessed Earth. It first ran in the October 4, 2017 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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