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Keystone XL Pipeline developers say project will generate $1.3 billion in annual profits, while Dems seek a permanent plug

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Earlier this year, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said he would permanently stop the $8 billion Keystone XL Pipeline from sending Canadian tar sands oil across 316 miles of South Dakota countryside by fully rescinding its permits.

Developers of the long-controversial conduit remain resolute in seeing its construction, despite yet another court delay. In fact, TC Energy officials said in their second quarter earnings statement released July 30 the Canadian firm should earn an average of $1.3 billion per year once the pipeline begins operation.

Now, two of the women Biden is strongly considering to be his running mate — U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois — are sponsoring legislation to stop coal, oil and natural gas in the form of the Environmental Justice for All Act.

“Confronting generations of systemic racism to achieve true justice will require us to recognize the role environmental racism has played and redress that by investing in long-term, sustainable environmental justice solutions to center and empower communities that have for far too long been excluded,” Harris upon introducing the act.

Along with Harris and Duckworth, another sponsor of this legislation in the Senate is U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. Meanwhile, U.S. Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Donald McEachin, D-Va., introduced a companion bill in the House.

“Communities of color face public health challenges—which also make them more susceptible to the effects of the deadly COVID-19 virus—at alarming rates while too many in power look the other way,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud to be helping Senator Harris introduce this important bill, which would go a long way to making sure that every American has the right to breathe safe air, drink clean water and live on uncontaminated land, regardless of their zip code, the size of their wallet or the color of their skin.”

For nearly a decade, the firm now known as TC Energy has been trying to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. Much of the controversy is due to the fact the project could encroach upon tribal areas.

“Environmental justice communities that have borne the brunt of pollution and neglect are tired of having waste incinerators and chemical plants built in their backyards without legal protection and dying prematurely without any acknowledgement from the powers that be,” Grijalva said of the act.

“The fact that Black Americans and people of color are dying disproportionately from COVID-19 exposes the deadly consequences of our nation’s history of environmental injustice. We cannot and must not accept this — we need environmental justice for all and we need environmental justice now,” McEachin added.

Pipelines and Profits

Meanwhile, officials with the company formerly known as TransCanada show few signs of giving up on the Keystone XL Pipeline. In fact, in the firm’s quarterly earnings statement released July 30, officials said they have secured 20 years worth of transportation service deals for the giant pipeline. This means the oil producers have agreed to pay TC Energy to ship the Canadian crude southward for this length of time.

The firm projects an average of $1.3 billion worth of earnings per year for the duration of this agreement. If this materializes, it would mean $26 billion in earnings for the two-decade term.

Despite ongoing legal difficulties regarding permits involving the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act, TC Energy officials said they still believe they can get the pipeline up and running by the end of 2023.

“Keystone XL intends to pursue other permitting means to gain regulatory authorization to construct the pipeline across wetlands and waterbodies,” company officials declared in their earnings report.

Pipeline developers claim the project’s construction will eventually lead to 3,500 jobs in South Dakota as it passes through nine counties: Harding, Butte, Perkins, Meade, Pennington, Haakon, Jones, Lyman and Tripp.

According to TC Energy, the strategy is for seven pump stations in South Dakota: Two in Harding County, one each in Meade, Haakon and Jones counties, and two in Tripp County.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) states that a pump station is “used to transport unrefined petroleum, petroleum products, and liquefied natural gas through pipelines.”

Overall, plans are for the Keystone XL to extend 1,210-miles from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska. At that point, it would connect with other TC Energy infrastructure to send the crude further south to refineries in east Texas.

As for TC Energy’s second quarter, the firm reported earnings of $1.3 billion from April 1 to June 30. This is a $200 million increase from the $1.1 billion recorded during this stretch in 2019.

“During the first half of 2020, our diversified portfolio of essential energy infrastructure continued to perform very well,” TC Energy President and CEO Russell K. Girling said in his firm’s earnings report. “I am proud that in these unprecedented times we have continued to deliver the energy and advance projects vital to powering our industries and institutions as well as to the daily life and mobility of millions of North Americans.”

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