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August 5, 2010
3:10 PM

CONTACT: Friends of the Earth

Alex Moore, 202-222-0733,
Kelly Trout, 202-222-0722,

Canadian Pipeline Firm Calls Off Effort to Skirt Safety Standards

TransCanada concedes to pressure, withdraws safety waiver application for proposed dirty tar sands oil pipeline

WASHINGTON - August 5 - As reported by Senator Jon Tester, TransCanada, the Canadian firm seeking approval from the Obama administration to build a massive new tar sands oil pipeline into the United States, will withdraw its application for a safety waiver from the Department of Transportation. 

The pipeline, called Keystone XL, would transport tar sands oil, the dirtiest form of oil available, from Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas. The safety waiver, officially called a "special permit," would have allowed TransCanada to cut costs by constructing the pipeline with thinner-than-normal steel and pumping the toxic oil at pressures that exceed the normally allowed limits.

Last week's spill of more than one million gallons of oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River by another tar sands oil pipeline - the largest spill in Midwest history - has heightened concerns about pipeline safety. TransCanada's first Keystone pipeline, which started pumping oil in June, has already spilled twice, even before reaching full capacity. 

Alex Moore, Dirty Fuels Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, had the following statement in response to TransCanada's announcement:

"TransCanada's decision is a step in the right direction, but it won't make this pipeline safe. Only a decision by President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and the toxic oil it would carry can ultimately protect the air, water and lands of communities in its path.

"TransCanada's concession will not eliminate the risk that this pipeline could spill and contaminate our nation's largest aquifer, the Ogallala, which provides drinking water for two million Americans. The TransCanada move also does nothing to address the increased risks of asthma and lung disease that tar sands oil refineries would pose to Texas communities or the cancer hot spots already emerging downstream from tar sands oil extraction sites in Canada.

"The only way the Obama administration can prevent this pipeline from inflicting harm is to keep it from being built."


Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.


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