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The goal of creating a pipeline to transport oil from Canada through the United States, including eastern Montana, took a hit Tuesday when the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce announced his opposition to the plan. Rep. Harry Waxman, D-Calif., said using the oil from the Alberta tar sands would increase greenhouse gas emissions.

The state department needs to approve the TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline because it crosses an international border.


Waxman has sent letters expressing his feelings to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the pipeline’s project manager in the state department.

The common thought is that once the oil is extracted it goes straight into a nice pipeline that will soon send it directly to a refinery. However, that’s not how it goes in the Montana or North Dakota Bakken. Companies have built rails, tracks, and must truck their product either to a refinery or to a tap, “on ramp,” of a pipeline that is going to the proper market.

TransCanada, a Canadian pipeline company, has proposed the expansion to its current Keystone pipeline system.

The current pipeline starts in Hardisty, Alberta, goes through Saskatchewan, down eastern North Dakota and ends in Cushing, Okla., or Patoka, Ill. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline will start in Hardisty but this time cut through eastern Montana, right through Bakken territory, and continue all the way to the markets on the Gulf.

“We continue to support the project,” Sarah Elliott, spokesperson for Gov. Brian Schweitzer, said on Tuesday. “It is another step toward better energy security and allows Montana oil another avenue to market.”

Schweitzer and North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven met during March in Billings with about 50 oil producers to discuss the possibility of an “on-ramp” for the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project of TransCanada.

“Montana and North Dakota are the only two states to have increased oil production over the last several years,” Schweitzer said at that time. “The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would provide infrastructure that could help maintain and even increase our level of production while bringing hundreds of new energy jobs and over $1 billion in investment to Montana.”

The office of Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., stated to the Herald that Tester supports responsible development of North America’s energy resources. “He believes we can’t ignore responsible development of our traditional resources. He especially supports developing Montana’s renewable resources, which will bring new jobs and new opportunities.”

Regarding the Keystone Pipeline, Tester wants to make sure that rural America – especially rural Montana – has someone in their corner to make sure all the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed as this project moves forward. “We’ve seen what happens when we don’t do our due diligence on planning and safety.”

Source: Sidney Herald

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