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UPDATE: Permit to build Keystone XL in Canada has expired

Dave Coles and Maude Barlow

Dave Coles and Maude Barlow

A Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union media release states, “The National Energy Board has given Trans Canada Pipeline until October 14 to respond to the assertion of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union that its Canadian permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline has expired. The NEB responded to a CEP application last week on the expiry of Order in Council 56 which required that construction of the pipeline commence prior to March 11, 2011. …(The company) claims that ‘earth moving’ near the Hardisty tank farm was carried out in 2010, but the union contends that no work was done that could reasonably be considered a commencement of construction. An investigative team that went to Hardisty found only a faded sign and an empty grass field.”

CEP President Dave Coles says, “This is no technicality. TCPL missed its construction start deadlines because regulatory approval is more than a year late in the US, and there are still large doubts about whether there will be US federal and state approvals. Much has changed since 2009 when XL went through our NEB and federal cabinet without adequate scrutiny. We need to redo this and get it right.”

Additional background: On September 21, 2007, the National Energy Board of Canada approved the construction of the Canadian section of the pipeline. The Calgary Herald reported earlier this year that, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a personal pitch (on February 4) for President Barack Obama to support a controversial $7-billion pipeline that could double the amount of Alberta oilsands crude exported to the United States (at the time they met to announce plans for a new security perimeter). Harper confirmed he pressed Obama on Calgary-based TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline during the two leaders’ hour-long meeting at the White House.” Harper has also recently stated that approval of XL is a “complete no-brainer”. And government spokespeople have said that Harper will be meeting with Obama this fall (date and location still to be set) on perimeter security, but clearly Harper will press again for Keystone XL to be approved.

The next step: Bill McKibben has written, “Over 1000 people have already signed up for our big action on November 6th, one year from the next election, when we’re going to try to encircle the White House in a giant, solemn protest. We’ve never tried something this big before – our goal here is to make it clear just how big this movement is, as a reminder to the President that this pipeline is a threat to both our communities and his reelection chances. We don’t have all the plans worked out, but here’s what we do know: this will be a daytime protest that will last for several hours, and you’ll be able to participate without risking arrest.” The Council of Canadians has already begun to make plans to join this action. To find out more about it, go to http://www.tarsandsaction.org/sign-up.