Yesterday, the Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 383,000 gallons (9,120 barrels) of oil into wetlands in North Dakota. The leak is already the eighth-largest pipeline oil spill of the last decade. The tar sands oil transported through the Keystone pipeline is particularly hard to clean up because, unlike crude oil, it sinks in water.
Keystone operator TC Energy’s (formerly TransCanada) alarming spill and safety record has come under scrutiny as it attempts to build the controversial and much larger Keystone XL pipeline through the midwestern United States and Indigenous treaty lands.
In response, Greenpeace USA Senior Research Specialist Tim Donaghy said:
“I wish I could say I was shocked, but a major spill from the Keystone pipeline is exactly what multiple experts predicted would happen. In fact, this is the fourth significant spill from the Keystone pipeline in less than ten years of operation. History has shown us time and again that there is no safe way to transport fossil fuels, and pipelines are no exception. In the last ten years, US pipeline spills have led to 20 fatalities, 35 injuries, $2.6 billion in costs, and more than 34 million gallons spilled. New pipelines are locking us into carbon emissions that will push our climate past safe limits. That is not the future I want for my children.
“In the past decade, every proposed tar sands pipeline — including the Keystone XL pipeline — has been stopped or delayed by a powerful movement fighting for Indigenous rights, a clean energy economy, and our environment. It is past time to leave fossil fuels in the ground and begin a just transition to a Green New Deal and 100 percent renewable energy.”
Greenpeace analysis from 2017 estimates that, if completed, the Keystone XL pipeline could expect 59 significant spills over a 50-year lifetime. With this latest spill, TC Energy has seen a total of 20 spills from its US pipeline network since 2010, which have released 696,276 gallons (16,578 barrels) of oil and hazardous liquids into the environment.
While Donald Trump moved to “fast-track” the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines in his first month in office, multiple Democratic frontrunners have already come out against the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.
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Ryan Schleeter is a senior communications specialist with Greenpeace USA covering climate and energy. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Grist, GreenBiz, EcoWatch, and more. Find him on Twitter @ryschlee.