Friday, August 20, 2010

EPA Objects to Keystone XL Pipeline on EJ Grounds

The Environmental Protection Agency is expressing concern about the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, designed to bring crude oil extracted from tar sands in western Canada to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur. EPA believes the pipeline doesn't adequately evaluate potential health impacts on minority communities near the Port Arthur refinery where some of the crude would be processed. A large minority population lives close by several refineries, chemical plants and a waste incinerator. Port Arthur was flagged as one of 10 sites with particular "environmental justice" issues. EPA is focusing on potential clean-air risks to Port Arthur residents raised by the Canadian oil.

The Carver Terrace housing project is within sight of the Motiva refinery, which is in the midst of an expansion that will make it one of the world's largest once the work is done in 2012. The refinery is one of four possible destinations in Port Arthur for the crude from the pipeline proposed by the Canadian energy company Trans­Canada Corp. Regulators have approved two segments of the 2,000-mile pipeline, known as Keystone XL. The Texas and Oklahoma portion remains under review, as does a stretch from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska.

The U.S. State Department, which issues permits for cross-border pipelines, concluded recently that the project would cause "limited adverse environmental impacts" if TransCanada follows its plans and the law. In response, the EPA raised several concerns, including the potential impacts to Port Arthur residents, who may be exposed to greater risks from the emissions of the refineries receiving the Canadian oil. (Chron, 8/18/2010, Chron, 8/15/2010)

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