The Keystone XL Pipeline, which runs from Alberta, Canada all the way to Port Arthur, Texas, just sprung a significant leak in South Dakota.

Reuters reported on Thursday that the pipeline sprung a 5,000 barrel leak (equivalent of roughly 210,000 gallons) in Amherst, South Dakota. The pipeline’s northern route has been shut down from Hardisty, Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma and Patoka, Illinois, although the line from Cushing to Port Arthur remains operational, according to Reuters.

Keystone Pipeline
Amherst, South Dakota (map by Wikipedia)
Keystone Pipeline route (Map by The Washington Post)

The leak comes at a poor time for Transcanada and Energy Transfer Partners, which both manage the Keystone XL Pipeline. Nebraska’s Public Service Commission is slated to vote on expanding the pipeline’s route in its state on November 20, and the recent leak is a reminder of the volatility of high-volume pipelines like Keystone XL. The commission — which is tasked with approving or rejecting projects based on the good provided to the general public — is expected to announce its decision by November 23, according to the Calgary Herald.

Environmental activists have been years-log opponents of the pipeline, which can carry as many as 830,000 barrels of oil across the country every day. The oil carried in the pipeline comes from the Canadian tar sands (a mixture of sand, clay, water, and bitumen), whose extraction and use emits far more CO2 than conventional crude oil.

President Trump greenlighted the construction of Keystone XL via executive order early in his presidency, claiming it would be beneficial for the economy. However, while the pipeline is expected to create roughly 12,000 construction jobs, only 50 permanent jobs would be created after the pipeline is fully built.


Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.

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