With all of the attention the Keystone XL pipeline has been getting, according to National Public Radio (NPR) out of Chicago, one pipeline has been completed under he media and even environmentalist radar. Soon the Flanagan South pipeline will carry tar sands oil which is the same type of oil Keystone XL might if Congress approves it in January.
The Flanagan South pipeline starts about two hours south of Chicago at the Flanagan South pump station of the Enbridge oil transport company. The width of the pipeline is about the size of a hula hoop and will carry up to 600,000 barrels of oil a day once it is put into operation. Also, NPR advises Flanagan South is part of a pipeline network that already stretches up to Canadian oil tar sands and down the Gulf Coast. The same direction as Keystone XL. What makes this pipeline unique is that Flanagan South’s owners used existing pipes to build its new network. Enbridge reversed some lines and expanded others in which one of their pipelines already goes through the US-Canadian border. As a result, Flanagan South did not need US State Department approval.
As it turns out, Endbridge was able to use a special permitting process that fast tracked the approval process in order to build the new pipeline. This did draw the ire of environmentalists in which the Sierra Club lost a legal challenge to the permit the company obtained since it was also able to avoid environmental review. The green group is, however, appealing. The company has hosted open forums and public information events and, naturally, the Sierra Club is angry because Enbridge was able to get this pipeline built under their noses.
There are concerns that regulators will not be able to handle spills if the pipeline bursts and the more pipelines built, the less likely federal agencies will be able to oversee much less respond to disasters related to pipelines. Oil pipelines like Keystone and Flanagan South are vital to the US being able to remain in existence since, I have pointed out previously, fossil fuels are the basis of out civilization. The tar sands oil pipelines transport will remain in the ground useless and it makes sense for mankind to put Earth’s resources to good use for our benefit.
Enbridge took advantage of a loophole in environmental law and, fortunately, was able to get their pipeline built quickly, in coordination with appropriate agencies and without much fanfare. Fossil fuels are here to stay and pipelines make oil and gas transportation much easier, cleaner and safer.