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Insider on Keystone pipeline case to speak at FLCC

by WayneTimes.com
November 2, 2019

Call it ironic, FLCC (Finger Lakes Community College) was about to send out a press release announcing a talk concerning the Keystone Pipeline lawsuit filed against the Trump administration to halt an extension of the Keystone oil pipeline from Nebraska to Alberta, Canada.

Then, breaking news hit the wires on Wednesday. A pipeline that carries tar sands oil from Canada through seven states has leaked an unknown amount of crude oil over more than quarter-mile swath in northeastern North Dakota, state environmental regulators said Wednesday.

TC Energy’s Keystone pipeline has leaked an estimated 383,000 gallons (1.4 million liters) of oil in northeastern North Dakota, marking the second massive spill in two years along the line that carries Canadian tar sands oil through seven states, regulators said Thursday.

Calgary-based TC Energy says in a statement that the pipeline leak affected about 22,500 square feet (2090.3 sq. meters) of land near Edinburg, in Walsh County.

The company says the spill has been contained and its cause is unknown.

North Dakota regulators were notified late Tuesday night of the leak. They say some wetlands were affected, but not any sources of drinking water.

Water Quality Division Director Karl Rockeman says the pipeline has been shut down since the leak.

The Keystone pipeline is part of a 2,687-mile (4,324 kilometer) system that also is to include the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company formerly known as TransCanada said in a statement that the leak affected about 22,500 square feet (2090 sq. meters) of land near Edinburg, in Walsh County.

The company and regulators said the cause was being investigated.

“Our emergency response team contained the impacted area and oil has not migrated beyond the immediately affected area,” the company said in a statement.

TC Energy said the area affected by the spill is less than the size of a football field and that the amount of oil released — 9,120 barrels — would approximately half fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. 

North Dakota regulators were notified late Tuesday of the leak. Rockeman said some wetlands were affected, but not any sources of drinking water.

Regulators have been at the site since Wednesday afternoon monitoring the spill and cleanup, he said.

The pipeline spill and shutdown comes as the company seeks to build the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has drawn opposition from people who fear it will harm the environment.

President Donald Trump issued a federal permit for the expansion project in 2017, after it had been rejected by the Obama administration.

Together, the massive Keystone and Keystone XL network would be about five times the length of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

The original Keystone has experienced problems with spills in the past, including one in 2011 of more than 14,000 gallons (53,000 liters) of oil in southeastern North Dakota, near the South Dakota border. That leak was blamed on valve failure at a pumping station.

Another leak in 2016 prompted a weeklong shutdown of the pipeline. The company estimated that just under 17,000 gallons (64,350 liters) of oil spilled onto private land during that leak. Federal regulators said an “anomaly” on a weld on the pipeline was to blame. No waterways or aquifers were affected.

In 2017, the pipeline leaked an estimated 407,000 gallons (1.5 million liters) of oil onto farmland in northeastern South Dakota, in a rural area near the North Dakota border. The company had originally put the spill at about 210,000 gallons (795,000 liters).

On November 10, as an attorney for the Colorado-based Native American Rights Fund, Don Ragona has an insider’s view of a battle that has pit two Native American tribes against big industry and federal government.

Titled “Turtle Island’s Treaties: Honor and Activism,” the event will begin at 4 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium at FLCC’s main campus, 3325 Marvin Sands Drive, Canandaigua. 

The suit against TC Energy alleges, among other things, that the pipeline poses a threat to the environment and people of the sacred, ancestral lands and violates centuries-old treaties.

Ragona and Jemison said they talk about treaties across “Turtle Island,” a name for land in North America commonly used by Native Americans and indigenous rights activists. “One of the points we’re going to make is that treaties are the law of the land. They are in the Constitution. They are living documents. They don’t expire. They don’t have shelf life,” said Ragona. “Tribes do rely on them today.”

 Added Jemison, “The Constitution says treaties are the Supreme Law of the land. How then can laws passed by Congress supersede a treaty signed by the president and ratified by Congress?”

 The discussion is well-timed. The following day, Nov. 11, is the anniversary of the Canandaigua Treaty, which established land boundaries and declared “peace and friendship” between the newly established United States of America and the tribes of the Haudenosaunee: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, Cayuga and Tuscarora.

The Nov. 10 event is the third of four talks in the forum’s 2019-2020 season. Forrest Pritchard, organic farmer and author of “Gaining Ground, A Story of Farmer’s Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm,” will give the final talk on Sunday, Jan. 26 on sustainable agriculture and family farms.

 Single-event tickets are $25 each. Student tickets are free at the door with a current student ID but only if the event has not sold out.

Tickets can be ordered by phone at (585) 393-0281 or purchased online at gmeforum.org.

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