The Keystone pipeline running from Canada across the Great Plains leaked Thursday morning, spilling about 5,000 barrels of oil — or 210,000 gallons — southeast of the small town of Amherst in northeast South Dakota. Incidents like this one always spark outrage and calls for more regulation for the entire pipeline industry. Worse, this spill is occurring only days from a crucial permitting decision for TransCanda on whether it can build a sister pipeline called Keystone XL.
The spill comes just days before a crucial decision next Monday by the Public Service Commission in Nebraska over whether to grant a permit for a new, long-delayed sister pipeline called Keystone XL, which has been mired in controversy for several years. Both are owned by Calgary-based TransCanada.
The spill on the first Keystone pipeline is the latest in a series of leaks that critics of the new pipeline say shows that TransCanada should not receive another permit.
“TransCanada cannot be trusted,” said Jane Kleeb, head of the Nebraska Democratic Party and a longtime activist opposed to Keystone XL. “I have full confidence that the Nebraska Public Service Commission is going to side with Nebraskans, not a foreign oil company.”
This is the time for crisis management. The pipeline industry needs to be in full gear- even if a company was not directly responsible. Blog posts, commentary in the media and press releases need to be distributed that call attention to the safety measures in place to ensure these kinds of spills don’t happen more frequently. Also attention must be brought to the lasting damage resulting from spills while transporting oil and gas through other methods than pipelines to put this incident in perspective. Statistics should be ready to share showing pipelines are much more safe than transportation via car, rail and ship. There is a cost to fossil fuel energy and right now pipelines are the safest, most reliable mode of transportation.