Keystone XL Pipeline: Oil for Export or American Prosperity?

Never forget that TransCanada owns the Keystone XL Pipeline, the product, oil sand, and they can merchandise that product wherever and whenever they wish. Every indicator says TransCanada’s XL pipeline products will be sold to the highest bidder. China has the money, China and other enemies of the United States.


By Bruce Branick | March 2, 2013

TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline is back in the news with a vengeance and arrived near the end game.

Keystone XL drum-beaters assured Americans that Alberta oil sands would see a reduction in U.S. gasoline prices, assure independence over Middle East and Venezuelan petroleum, that prices of oil would be better controlled. Further, that thousands of jobs would be available, and some are, however transitory.

Truth be told, Keystone is about half finished, and less than 4000 jobs are in for half the pipe run. But, have Americans been sold a $7 billion dollar pipe dream? Vendors of Keystone’s pipedream for TransCanada’s construct may have exceeded their optimism, exponentially.

The Port Arthur News reported that according to TransCanada’s David Dodson, “Keystone’s segment from Cushing, Oklahoma to Texas’ Gulf Coast is halfway toward completion and could be transporting oil by year’s end…nearly 4000 workers in Oklahoma and Texas are aligning and welding a 485 mile section (over a third of the total pipeline mileage from the Canadian border to Houston, Texas). Now, about 850 laborers are at work in Oklahoma, with roughly 3000 more in Texas. Most are temporary contracts.” When these jobs would begin to wind down, even Dodson couldn’t say.

With Keystone’s 7 billion dollars aching to be spent, some of the finishing touches are being applied in far away SE Texas’ Jefferson County, where tons of log mats have been laid in local marshes for heavy ditching equipment and miles of pipe.

To this observer, trenching and pipe welding adjacent to the Sarah-Jane highway and Sabine ship channel, a baker’s dozen hard hats tidying up the Port Arthur, Texas terminus of the Keystone Pipeline, ‘do not a tide of jobs signify.’

Most of Keystone’s initial jobs will be short-lived, a guess on the order of another 18 months, or less, to completion. Extra jobs in several special Texas refineries technically able to handle oil sands will give increased access to a new oil source, while mechanical engineers, lawyers and doctors once required will be phased out, their employment equally tenuous, like most construction work, will slowly leach away. At the end will be a minimum number of permanent jobs at pumping stations and a few concerned with pipeline oversight.

The Power of Eminent Domain and the Question of ‘Common Carrier’ Status

There are many other questions for the XL pipedream, questions about methods perpetrated by Keystone to obtain rights-of-way. Some landholders alleged easement contractors were uncouth, gave landowners take it or leave it offers of low-ball dollars, and threatened them with eminent domain and lesser monies if they failed to knuckle under and sign up, though some other landholders made hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Texans had already had a bellyful of eminent domain demands from Mexico, the U.S. and Canada, including Texas Governor Rick Perry involving the so-called Trans-Texas Corridor, a proposed super-toll-highway from Mexico to Canada, an un-needed Chinese quick-connect Texans would pay down over many generations, as they lost priceless property when the road randomly split-up paying properties, chopping away vital portions of land previously whole, that at one time made those pieces viable money makers, profitable land that may have been in families since the Alamo’s Davy Crockett.

Have-nots, those without jobs (hundreds of thousands of illegal alien lawbreakers living with their families and working not so odd jobs in Texas), and those citizens who sincerely wished to debark from that federal gravy train, the 99 percent club, cried for access to income bonanzas building aboard the nascent pipeline that ran from Alberta, Canada to Port Arthur, Texas refineries, the trenching, welding,  pumping stations, trucking and unskilled gofer jobs paying premium wages.

Canadians could have sent oil sands from their Alberta fountainhead, via pipeline to British Columbia, to Canada’s port of Vancouver and not bothered confiscating the property of American landowners. Matter of fact, “the Chinese had, for months,” like “Horace Greeley,” been urging the Canadians to ‘Go West,’ to run the XL pipeline over the Rockies, to Vancouver, the oil sands for shipment aboard “150 modern Chinese tankers.” But, Canadians, shocked as they were over oil spills in the northwestern Alberta muskeg, 22,000 bbls, and endured on Indian lands, and Gleniffer Lake and reservoir (drinking water), including the Red Deer River, 3000 bbls, were adamantly opposed to the ruination of the Canadian Rockies. (CBC News).

Today, the Keystone XL is again in a ferment of litigious activity. David Yates, SE Texas (Law) RECORD, 1 Feb. 2013, wrote, “…Texas Rice Land argued that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to require TransCanada to establish its authority as a common carrier before granting TransCanada possession of Texas rice property, saying TransCanada does not have the power of eminent domain because it is not a common carrier and the pipeline is not a common carrier pipeline.”

China, a country of bright and long-term thinkers, whatever one may think of their politics, Orientals born with patience in their gene structure, have become heirs of the Panama Canal given to Americans by Teddy Roosevelt, and virtually gifted to China by Jimmy Carter and Sol Linowitz in 1976.

The Chinese have been busy, ostensibly owning and enlarging the Panama Canal; they also hold Lázaro Cárdenas in the Mexican state of Michoacán, a seaport south of Puerto Vallarta they’ve modernized for hundreds of Danish container ships that run from the orient, almost as closely as cars on the Union Pacific Railroad. And, for some 150 modern Chinese tank ships, China has contracted for docks in California, Washington State, Vancouver, Canada, and on other American coasts.

Never forget that TransCanada owns the Keystone XL Pipeline, the product, oil sand, and they can merchandise that product wherever and whenever they wish. Every indicator says the TransCanada’s XL pipeline products will be sold to the highest bidder. China has the money, China, and other enemies of the United States.

The Keystone XL is a fait accompli. Even now, the final touches are being applied to this $7 billion dollar steel octopus, though it’s highly unlikely, even considering Obama’s heel-dragging in such parlous times and a lot of Americans direly in need of money, that the new Secretary of State, John Kerry, would turn thumbs down on a Keystone XL permit to cross the border into the U.S. from Canada, or that an industrial work costing this magnitude of money would be scrapped at this stage of the great game.

In fact, the State Department’s Keystone XL Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement released on Friday, March 1 found no objection to the pipeline. TransCanada immediately issued a statement saying: “The company remains strongly committed to obtaining approval to safely build and operate the pipeline, and will continue to be engaged in the process as the DOS enters its final stages of reviewing the project.”

Enough said!


Bruce Branick served his nation for over 5 decades at sea. After three years of North Atlantic convoy duty as a Radioman in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Greenland Patrol and a fourth year attached to the Richmond Naval Air Station, a Florida Blimp Base concerned with Anti-submarine Warfare, he spent 50 years in the U.S. Merchant Marine as a Radio Officer, voyaging the world over from the Arctic to Antarctica, from Galveston to Istanbul, from Suez to Hong Kong. Mr. Branick, a contributor to

SFPPR News & Analysis

, is author of


Memoirs of a Loose Cannon

and
Two If By Sea
(1970).