A year ago, the 1,700-mile, $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline, designed to export Alberta's oil sands oil to U.S. refineries on the Gulf of Mexico, seemed a slam dunk.
Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline is critical for TransCanada and the Canadian energy industry. If constructed, the three foot wide pipeline would transmit 700,000 barrels a day of hot, heavy, high-pollutant and corrosive oil sands tar bitumen from northern Alberta across the central U.S. to refineries near Houston and Port Arthur in Texas and facilities in Louisiana via a conduit whose walls would be ½ an inch thick.
But what seemed a done deal up to a few months ago is no more, and investors seeking the next safe project should look elsewhere.
Environmentalists have been up in arms against the project since its inception, with more than 1,000 demonstrators being arrested in Washington's Lafayette Square across from the White House in recent weeks, an event that has received virtually no attention from the mainstream U.S. media. Quite aside from the issue of the tar sands having a higher carbon footprint than traditional oil sources, environmentalists are concerned that leaks from the pipeline could pollute the Oglala aquifer, the water source for America's breadbasket. A further concern came when Trans-Canada applied for a waiver to run oil through the pipeline at pressures higher than those now used on oil pipelines in the U.S., resulting in a lower margin of safety, which the company…