President Obama announced today that the United States has rejected the Canadian company TransCanada’s application for a permit to complete the Keystone XL pipeline.
However, in Northeast Texas, TransCanada’s pipeline remains a done deal. The southern leg of the Keystone XL project, renamed the Gulf Coast Pipeline, was constructed in 2012-13 and went into active service in January 2014.
The Gulf Coast Pipeline carries a variety of petroleum products, including bitumen, often called tar sands crude oil.
In Northeast Texas, the pipeline crosses the Red River just west of the Fannin-Lamar county line, continues through Lamar County, passes through Delta County east of Cooper, across eastern Hopkins County and the southwestern corner of Franklin County, and then the eastern flank of Wood County. The pipeline then continues its path through the Piney Woods and finally to a refinery center in Port Arthur.
Lamar County landowner Julia Trigg Crawford’s legal battle with TransCanada received international attention during the planning and construction phase of the Gulf Coast Pipeline.
“The right decision was made, all the hard work was worth it,” Crawford said regarding the decision to reject the Alberta-to-Nebraska pipeline. “My friends in Nebraska and the Dakotas will not have to suffer what we suffered. But then, the reality kind of set in that we were the sacrificial lambs. I’ve got both happy and sad feelings right now.”
The rejection of the northern leg of the project is expected to have an indirect effect on the petroleum industry in Texas. Andy Lipow of Houston-based Oil Associates told Houston Public Media that bitumen from Alberta will have a circuitous journey before reaching the center in Cushing, Okla., that serves the Gulf South Pipeline.
“They’ll be disappointed up in Canada, because this would have been another avenue to move Canadian oil sands down to the U.S., and specifically further on down to refiners in the Gulf Coast,” Lipow said in a conversation with Houston Public Media’s Andrew Schneider. “On the other hand, the refiners on the Gulf Coast will be disappointed, because it makes it more expensive to move Canadian oil sands material to their refineries, and they may turn to more crude by rail.”
Crawford said that she had been asked whether today’s announcement affected the pipeline in Northeast Texas.
“People are sending me notes saying ‘Does this mean they’ll come dig up your pipeline?’ Well, no,” Crawford said.
TransCanada has left open the possibility that the company would try again to get a pipeline built from Alberta to the central U.S.
"TransCanada and its shippers remain absolutely committed to building this important energy infrastructure project," TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said.