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Sierra Club US calls for Line 67 and KXL to be reviewed together

The Council of Canadians was planning to write US President Barack Obama to ask him to deny the presidential permit necessary for Calgary-based Enbridge to expand the barrels-per-day capacity of the Alberta Clipper/ Line 67 pipeline that begins in Edmonton and passes through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Dakota, and Minnesota, ending in Superior, Wisconsin at the western tip of Lake Superior.

And so it was good to see Bloomberg News report today that, “(San Francisco-based) Sierra Club said TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone and the proposed expansion of Enbridge Inc.’s Alberta Clipper should be reviewed together to account for how the combination would contribute to climate change. (It) is filing a petition today asking the U.S. State Department to revise its Keystone review.”

“The Sierra Club said the State Department has to account for its authority over oil sands development, because the two pipelines combined could carry almost 1.3 million barrels a day. By considering each application separately, it’s not taking into account the full impact, according to a copy of a petition to the government provided to Bloomberg.”

“If the rejection of one pipeline would lead to greater use of the other, then the projects should be considered together, (Sierra Club lawyer Doug) Hayes said. …Even if the State Department rejects the Sierra Club’s argument, the petition could be the foundation for a legal challenge, said Ethan Strell, associate director of Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University in New York. …Strell said the Sierra Club argument has merit and could be the basis for a lawsuit under the National Environmental Policy Act.”

“TransCanada filed its initial application for Keystone XL, which would carry 830,000 barrels per day, in 2008. Calgary- based Enbridge applied in November 2012 to add pumps and valves to a portion of its Alberta Clipper to increase capacity to 880,000 barrels a day from 450,000 barrels. …The State Department is working on the environmental reviews of each application. Once those are complete, the Obama administration must decide if each is in the national interest.”

Late last week, we noted a Reuters article that reported, “Enbridge Inc Chief Executive Al Monaco said on Thursday that an amendment to the U.S. presidential permit for its Alberta Clipper pipeline, which the company needs to expand the line’s capacity, will likely be delayed past a previous target of mid-2014. …Monaco did not give a new timeline for U.S. permitting, but said the company has some flexibility to move capacity on its other pipelines.”

The Council of Canadians has opposed both the Keystone XL and Alberta Clipper pipeline for years.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has stated, “The expansion of the Alberta Clipper is going to increase the development of the tar sands and spell disaster for water sources, climate change and public health. We need to reduce emissions to avoid catastrophe. There is no public process for this expansion project despite the impacts it’s going to have, especially on the Great Lakes. If we want to prevent projects like this from putting our water at risk, communities need to speak out.”

It has been argued that the expansion of Line 67 is the linchpin of the plan by Superior, Wisconsin-based refiner Calumet Specialties to ship 13 million barrels per year of crude oil across Lake Superior and through the Great Lakes on barges.

On September 24, 2011, Barlow received the Sierra Club’s EarthCare Award. The award honours ‘an individual who has made a unique contribution to international environmental protection and conservation’. The Earthcare Award is the highest international award presented by the Sierra Club US. Just two days later, Barlow was arrested along with 200 other people in a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Further reading
Presidential permit for Line 67 expansion faces delay
Alberta Clipper pipeline to destroy wetlands and threaten Great Lakes
Barlow receives Sierra Club US Earthcare Award