We would like to offer a letter in response to Mr. Jacob Kornfeld’s Viewpoint piece, “Standing up for my future.

Jacob, I hope this letter finds you well. I read your piece in The Michigan Daily with great interest. I’m writing to you to let you know, we hear you and that we are listening. We hope you are open to listening to us as well.

A few points you mentioned in your letter require some clarification on our behalf. One of the points you make is that Keystone XL “is not in the interest of the people of color and the impoverished people it would disproportionately affect.”

Environmental stewardship is an integral part of TransCanada’s business. We build and operate energy infrastructure in order to provide oil, natural gas and electricity to millions of homes across North America. We don’t just build oil pipelines; we build wind farms, solar facilities and hydro operations as well. All of these projects have impacts on the communities they operate in. Our job is to ensure our projects respect the land, people and culture in those communities. It’s a job we take very seriously.

In the consideration and evaluation of a project such as Keystone XL, the State Department is required by law to evaluate environmental justice concerns. The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement states:

“Typical proposed Project operations are unlikely to disproportionately adversely impact the environmental justice populations present. Because the risk of a potential release is roughly equal at all points along the pipeline, the risks associated with such releases would not be disproportionately borne by minority or low-income populations. However, such populations could be more vulnerable should a release occur.

“If permitted, Keystone has agreed to avoidance and mitigation measures to minimize negative impacts to all populations in the proposed Project area.”

With respect to your comments about landowners being “bullied into giving up land across the Midwest,” TransCanada treats landowners with respect, fairness and dignity. To date, we’ve secured 100 percent of the easements for Keystone XL in Montana and South Dakota. In just over eight months, we have already voluntarily secured 77 percent of the easements we need in Nebraska and discussions with landowners continues. We have more than 60,000 neighbors across North America; those relationships are the most important part of our business. It’s because of our dealings with landowners that we’ve been able to earn the trust and mutual respect needed to build and operate safe, modern energy infrastructure on this continent for more than 60 years.

You mentioned your concerns for the safety of the Ogallala Aquifer. We understand that concern. Our employees live and work in Nebraska as well. A few things people don’t know about the Ogallala Aquifer is that there are more than 20,000 miles of pipeline running over the aquifer today including the existing Keystone Pipeline which has safely transported more than 590 million barrels of oil to Midwest refineries since 2010. Second, the aquifer is not a big underground lake with water flowing freely. It is a tight rock formation with tiny pores that water travels through at a rate of two to three feet a day. The State Department and hydrogeologcist and Ogallala Aquifer expert, Jim Goeke, both have stated that in the unlikely event of a spill in the Aquifer any damaged would be highly localized and contained to as little as tens of feet.

Keystone XL is a state-of-the-art energy infrastructure project that has not only set the standard for pipeline safety but also for environmental protections and maintenance. We’ve agreed to 59 additional special safety conditions that no other pipeline project operating in the United States has. That includes installing cement casings around the pipeline near water tables, using more automatic shut-off valves spaced closer together, burying the pipeline deeper and increasing inspections.

Preparing for tomorrow’s energy challenges is what we do at TransCanada. Those challenges simply cannot be addressed by one or two sources of energy alone. Energy security requires access to diverse, abundant and reliable sources of energy and safe infrastructure to move it. Keystone XL will play a critical role in addressing the energy security demands of the United States while protecting the environment.

TransCanada supports a transition to a lower carbon future and we hire young, passionate people like you to work on our shared challenges of reducing emissions and addressing climate change.

We might not be handcuffing ourselves to the gates of the White House but we have invested more than $5 billion in renewable and emission-free energy, including nuclear, wind, solar and hydro. We help generate and deliver low carbon electricity to millions of families across North America. We also safely transport the oil and natural gas that hundreds of millions of people depend on every day and that’s something that we’re extremely proud of.


Matthew John

Matthew John is an external communications specialist for TransCanada.

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