A new report says the proposed Canada-U.S. Keystone XL pipeline would be an easy target for a terrorist attack that could create an environmental disaster.
David M. Cooper, a retired command master chief of the U.S. Navy SEALs who conducted the vulnerability study for NextGen Climate America, told The Huffington Post that it would take only a few terrorists with some basic hand tools and a small amount of explosives to conduct “a coordinated attack along just a few key nodes along that pipeline in the span of just really minutes.”
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would transport Canadian oil recovered from sands in eastern Alberta through western and central American states to the Gulf of Mexico coast of Texas. Supporters say it would help make the United States more energy independent. Opponents say it’s an environmental disaster waiting to happen.
Cooper, a decorated 25-year veteran of the Navy’s special forces, shares the latter view. “That's an Exxon Valdez-level oil spill right in the middle of America,” he said.
The U.S. State Department is in the process of deciding whether the pipeline would be in the U.S. national interest. It has repeatedly postponed making a decision while it waits for legal challenges to the pipeline’s route through Nebraska to be resolved.
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Next Gen Climate’s report says there is scant security along the pipeline’s route, despite assurances to the contrary by TransCanada Corp., which owns the pipeline. Cooper said he scouted areas in Nebraska where the pipeline is expected to pass and concluded, “there was no security.”
As a result, Cooper said, a successful attack on the pipeline in that area would likely disgorge 1.2 million gallons of oil, fouling drinking water and farmland. Even more oil – over 7 million gallons – could be spilled if several coordinated attacks along the pipeline took place, he said.
NextGen Climate America was founded by billionaire hedge fund manager, philanthropist and environmentalist Tom Steyer.
The group said the 14-page report on the Keystone XL pipeline was carefully redacted to remove any information that could aid would-be terrorists.
By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com
Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com