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Work on Keystone XL Halts in Texas over "Wrong Type of Oil" Claim

By Energy Digital | Wed, 12 December 2012 22:53 | 1

In Texas, a judge ordered the halting of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline after a landowner filed a lawsuit claiming that the company lied to Texans about type of oil it would be transporting.

Landowner Michael Bishop, a 64-year-old retired chemist in medical school, claims that TransCanada (NYSE:TRP)lied in telling Texans that it would use the pipeline to transport crude oil, which will instead be used to transport tar sands oil, or diluted bitumen. According to Bishop, tar sands oil does not meet the state's definition of crude oil as “liquid hydrocarbons extracted from the earth at atmospheric temperatures,” he told the Associated Press, which mean it “has to be heated and diluted in order to even be transmitted.”

Environmentalists argue that tar sands oil is a lot more difficult to cleanup should a spill occur, contaminating nearby water and land. Not to mention, refining the product in Texas will raise its already high greenhouse gas emissions rates.

Texas County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinze will not hear the case until Dec. 19, which was quickly pushed to Dec. 13, according to TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard. According to statements released by the company, the tar sands are in fact a form of crude oil and the pipeline is expected to come back into operation in late 2013.

Earlier this year, many other Texan farmers expressed their opposition to the pipeline. According to a blog from the NRDC's Susan Casey-Leftkowitz, the plan to split the giant pipeline in two and start building in Texas will put landowners at high risk and will likely lead to even higher gas prices in the Midwest:

Related Article: Keystone XL: Welcome to the Proxy Energy War

“...it will divert tar sands from the Midwest to the Gulf, raising American oil prices and likely also gasoline prices,” Casey-Leftkowitz writes. “An Oklahoma to Texas tar sands pipeline will mean more tar sands converted to diesel and available for export overseas. It will mean less tar sands remaining in the US, even while Americans bear the risks of the pipeline.”

It's a tough fight, but Bishop is determined to make his case. Despite the oil giant's legal power and support expected to make an appearance at the hearing, he told the Associated Press:

"Bring 'em on. I'm a United States Marine. I'm not afraid of anyone. I'm not afraid of them... When I'm done with them, they will know that they've been in a fight. I may not win, but I'm going to hurt them."

By. Carin Hall

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  • Martin H. Katchen on December 14 2012 said:
    If it is necessary to dilute bitumen with benzene to transport it by pipeline, diluted bitumen amounts to roughly the same thing as coal slurry (although coal slurry has been diluted mainly by water). Transporting coal by slurry pipeline has never caught on, probably for the same reasons that diluted bitumen is an issue; bad behavior in the event of a spill and the likelihood that the pipeline will corrode quickly. But coal is readily transported by rail. And since tar sands bitumen is highly dense as energy, perhaps rail is also the way to transport tar sands bitumen. It has been shown that a great deal of energy can be transported in dedicated coal trains of a mile or more in length. And while trains must be kept a minimum distance apart from one another, the only real limitation on the length of trains is the existence of grade separations that can interfere with emergency vehicles if fire, police or ambulances get stuck with a long train between them and the emergency. Eliminate grade separations on the rail line and we eliminate this problem. And a lot of road overpasses and underpasses of railroad lines can be built for the cost of one transcontinental pipeline. It would not even be terribly difficult to build hoppers for bitumen that detach from the rail undercarriage and could fit inside empty shipping containers for the return trip to China, as is now being done with metal scrap. So just because there is a problem with piping out tar sands bitumen dosen't mean that the bitumen has to be stuck in Western Canada.

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