Check the Facts

For more information on the safety and benefits of KXL please visit the KXL project website.

Also, for more facts about oil sands, visit the Oil Sands Fact Check website at oilsandsfactcheck.org.

Safety and Environment

Fiction: KXL will threaten the Ogallala Aquifer

Fact: The majority of the Ogallala Aquifer is located west and uphill of the proposed KXL project route in Nebraska which means it is not at risk as the water moves west to east, and downward.

The aquifer is a tight rock formation with tiny pores that water travels through at a rate of two to three feet a day. The U.S. State Department has stated that in the unlikely event of a spill any damage would be highly localized and contained to as little as tens of feet. This means that it is not possible for a crude oil spill of any kind to threaten the viability of the Ogallala Aquifer.

It’s also important to know that aquifers underlie much of the United States and tens of millions of barrels of oil, and refined products move over aquifers safely every single day. In fact, there’s 20,000 miles of pipeline already running through the Ogallala Aquifer today including the existing Keystone Pipeline System which has safely transported more than 1.4 billion barrels of crude oil since 2010.

Download a high-resolution map of the Ogallala Aquifer

Fiction: Following the existing Keystone route would result in less environmental impact than the current proposed route.

Fact: The proposed (Preferred) KXL route was evaluated by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) over a 10-month public process in 2012. The process was inclusive of a seven -month public comment period and testimony period where feedback was provided on the Preferred Route for incorporation into route adjustments to avoid sensitive and important areas in Nebraska.

Among other findings, NDEQ found that the Preferred Route avoids the Nebraska Sandhills region and avoids many areas of fragile soils in northern Nebraska.

Compared to the Keystone Mainline Alternative Route, the Preferred Route was selected on the basis that potential benefits that may be afforded by co-locating with the Keystone Mainline are outweighed by the need for additional aboveground infrastructure (i.e., pump station and associated electrical transmission lines), as wells as, the additional impacts to the environment.

Download a map of the proposed KXL route in Nebraska

Fiction: KXL will carry oil that is more corrosive and toxic than other types of crude oil.

Fact: KXL will transport crude oil that is very similar to those already being transported and processed by other pipelines and refineries across the United States and have been for decades.

Fiction: KXL poses a threat to public safety and the environment.

Fact: The safe, reliable construction and operation of KXL is a top priority and will be achieved though enhanced standards, powerful technology and independent reviews.  KXL will use corrosion-resistant pipe and construction welds reviewed by third parties and audited by the U.S. Government. Modern technology will be built into the pipe to continuously monitor product flow 24 hours a day, 365 a year. Regular aerial and land inspections will occur to supplement digital monitoring, and emergency protocols will be set up and routinely practiced.

Fiction: All pipelines are unsafe.

Fact: Pipelines are the safest way to transport crude oil and petroleum products. Each year, hundreds of millions of gallons of crude oil and petroleum products are safely transported on thousands of miles of pipelines in the U.S. The vast majority of pipeline leaks are small, with most involving less than three barrels, 80% of spills involve less than 50 barrels, and less than 0.5% of incidents total more than 10,000 barrels. To move the same volume of KXL oil into the U.S. market would take a train that was 25 miles long each and every day. According to Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration in the U.S., for every pipeline incident that takes place, there are 50 railway incidents.

Fiction: KXL doesn't have an emergency response plan.

Fact: Before beginning operations, KXL will file an emergency response plan with the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Keystone has filed emergency response plans in connection with Phase I and Phase II, which currently deliver crude oil to Illinois and Oklahoma. Our emergency response plans are approved by regulators, and we regularly test and practice the activation of these plans so in the event something does occur, we are ready to respond quickly and effectively.

Fiction: Local emergency responders are not equipped or trained to handle leaks or spills.

Fact: KXL personnel would respond and manage clean-up operations should a spill or leak occur. Local personnel would be responsible for securing an incident site. TransCanada will work very closely with emergency responders across the pipeline route so that everyone is prepared in case of an incident. In fact, every year, TransCanada hosts over 100 safety exercises to ensure that personnel and first responders are ready in the rare case of an incident. 

KXL will also be built using modern technology that will continuously monitor product flow. Aerial and land inspections will also occur regularly. The pipeline will be monitored through a centralized high-tech center 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Satellite technology sends data every five seconds from thousands of data points to the monitoring center and if a drop in pressure is detected, personnel can isolate any section of the pipeline by remotely closing any of the hundreds of valves on the system within minutes.

Business Practices

Fiction: TransCanada is a foreign company.

Fact: TransCanada has been an active community member in Nebraska for over 30 years now. Not only do they operate two pipelines in the state; the Northern Border Pipeline which has been operating since 1982 and the original Keystone Pipeline which has been safely operating since 2010, but they also have hundreds of employees who live and work in Nebraska and offices in Omaha.

Fiction: TransCanada has been bullying landowners.

Fact: That is not how TransCanada does business. TransCanada has worked respectfully, honestly and tirelessly with landowners in acquiring 100 per cent of agreements in Montana and South Dakota and approximately 91 per cent along the Department of Environmental Quality’s preferred new route in Nebraska.

Fiction: TransCanada is "taking" property from landowners.

Fact: TransCanada will not "take" property or acquire ownership of land. KXL will provide compensation to landowners for a temporary easement for pipeline construction and a permanent easement for the pipeline route. In exchange, TransCanada provides landowners with fair compensation, based on how much of their property that the pipeline passes through and current market value. Landowners retain possession of their property and will continue to use it as they had previously.

Fiction: KXL isn't needed.

Fact: KXL is needed and will be a key component in a much needed refocus on U.S. infrastructure while also producing thousands of well-paying jobs and substantial economic benefit to local communities and the U.S. GDP. KXL represents a safe, reliable, and environmentally sound way to connect the American economy with an abundant North American energy resource produced by a neighbor that shares a commitment to a clean and healthy environment. The energy it carries will ultimately fuel the daily lives of Americans.

Economic Development

Fiction: KXL doesn't benefit the U.S.

Fact: KXL will bring significant economic benefits to Americans during construction and operations. As found in the U.S. State Departments Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) those benefits would include:

  • Tens of thousands of well-paying jobs and associated earnings throughout the U.S. during construction.
  • Approximately $3.4 billion to the U.S. GDP
  • Approximately $4 million in property tax revenues generated from construction camps.
  • An estimated $55.6 million in property tax in the first full year of operations spread across 27 counties in three states.
  • Approximately $66 million in sales and use tax revenue.
  • Private investment strengthens U.S. infrastructure and advances energy security
Fiction: The crude oil KXL will transport will be put on tankers and sent to China.

Fact: The crude oil KXL will transport will not be shipped to China; it will be refined at U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast to meet American demand for petroleum products.