An estimated 210,000 gallons of oil spilled from Keystone pipeline on agricultural land near Amherst, South Dakota last month. The pipeline is owned by the Canadian company TransCanada.
TransCanada reported that 44,730 gallons of oil have since been recovered in clean-up efforts and the pipeline resumed operations at the end of November. The company said that there have been no water issues thus far.
Cassie Steiner, PR and Outreach Associate for the John Muir chapter of the Sierra Club, said that the spill, “represents the concerns that we have with the pipelines. No matter the safety measures that the companies state they can put on these pipelines, they are still at risk to spill. And the spill in South Dakota is just another example of why these pipelines are dangerous to put in the ground and why we are looking at other alternatives including electrifying vehicles and clean energy as solutions to our future that are much less risky.”
The week following the spill, Nebraskan regulators approved an alternate route for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, another TransCanada project.
The Keystone XL’s approval came after years of controversy. The project was rejected by former president Obama in 2015, who said that approving another pipeline would not align with the United States commitment to addressing climate change. This decision was rescinded in 2017 by President Trump who approved the project and praised the pipeline as, “the greatest technology known to man or woman.”
Supporters of Keystone XL point to the economic stimulus provided by the estimated 42,100 jobs the pipeline would support during the one to two years of construction. However, the pipeline would only create 50 jobs which would last during operation.
Although the approval seems like a blow for environmentalist groups, many are very optimistic about Nebraska’s decision, because the route approved for Keystone XL was not the preferred one proposed by TransCanada.
Steiner said that the rejection of the preferred route acts as a major set-back for TransCanada, she said that this means more permitting that they will have to go through. “It actually sets them back several years and with this project being delayed and delayed the cost has gone up for it and the longer it is delayed the more expensive this project becomes. As clean energy becomes more affordable the less this project makes sense,” Steiner said.