What Is The Answer To Yesterday’s Keystone Pipeline Rupture That Spilled 200,000 Gallons Of Crude Oil In South Dakota?

TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline facilities in Hardisty, Alta. TransCanada Corp. says its Keystone pipeline has leaked an estimated 795,000 liters of oil in Marshall County, S.D. The company says its crews shut down the pipeline early yesterday morning after detecting a drop in pressure and are assessing the situation. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

As many people are now aware, yesterday a rupture in the Trans Canada Keystone 1 pipeline caused a massive spill of 200,000 gallons of tar sands, which also happens to be the world’s dirtiest crude oil, in South Dakota. This spill will contaminate the environment and potentially threaten local communities.

Via the Associated Press, we learn:

The existing Keystone pipeline transports crude from Canada to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma, passing through the eastern Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. It can handle nearly 600,000 barrels daily, or about 23 million gallons. TransCanada says on its website that the company has safely transported more than 1.5 billion barrels of oil, or about 63 billion gallons, through the system since operations began in 2010.

President Donald Trump issued a federal permit for the expansion project in March even though it had been rejected by the Obama administration. The Keystone XL project would move crude oil from Alberta, Canada, across Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines feeding refineries along the Gulf Coast.        

TransCanada said it activated emergency response procedures after detecting a drop in pressure resulting from the leak south of a pump station in Marshall County. The cause was being investigated.

Discovery of the leak comes just days before Nebraska regulators are scheduled to announce their decision Monday whether to approve the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, an expansion that would boost the amount of oil TransCanada is now shipping through the existing line, which is known simply as Keystone. The expansion has faced fierce opposition from environmental groups, American Indian tribes, and some landowners.  

Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist manager at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the state has sent a staff member to the site of the leak in a rural area near the border with North Dakota about 250 miles (402 kilometers) west of Minneapolis.

“Ultimately, the cleanup responsibility lies with TransCanada, and they’ll have to clean it up in compliance with our state regulations,” Walsh said.

The cause of the leak is still unknown.

How does something like this happen, and more importantly, what do we collectively need to understand about our relationship with fossil fuels?

Currently, the United States gets 81% of its total energy from oil, coal, and natural gas, all of which are fossil fuels. We depend on these fuels to heat our homes, run our vehicles, power industry and manufacturing, and provide us with electricity.

What is the solution, and how can we turn this proverbial ship around to avoid further disasters as well as protect the environment and future generations?

The answer lies in two areas.

  1. Technological advances and funding toward utilizing clean, renewable energy.

  2. Governmental agencies understanding the full scope of the issue while committing themselves to the problem without political agenda.

The harsh truth is, all of the people involved in the petrochemical industry have lobbyists in Congress contributing many dollars to political entities to protect their interests.

Millions of jobs are dependent on the petrochemical industry, and, it is the potential loss of these jobs and money that is the reason politicians are trying to keep fossil fuels burning at the rate they do.

Clean energy technological advances must be eased into our daily life, thus, weaning off the use of fossil fuels so that we can reduce current use from 81% down to a manageable amount over the next 20-30 years.

Additional training and education must be integrated into this new system so we can shift comfortably to acclimate current employees of the fossil fuel industry into alternate positions.

We all must be concerned with the health of each other and our planet, as well as interested in being aware of how we live our daily lives, and what is involved in making a shift in the right direction.

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