Talking Points

Keystone XL DSEIS Comments Due April 22, 2013

The Keystone XL pipeline is in the final months of review, and there are five days left to get comments in on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Below are some talking points and issues related to the DSEIS that you can use while drafting your comments, as well as an outline you can use for your email.

To send in your comments, you must email them to Please also send them to so we can track the comments sent in from South Dakota!


The Keystone XL pipeline lacks appropriate safety measures

  • Four years into review, an expert safety review by the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazard Materials Safety Administration is still needed.
  • The Keystone I pipeline has had 14 spills since it began operations in June 2010, the Enbridge pipeline carrying tar sands in Michigan spilled 843,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River, the Exxon pipeline, which at times carried tar sands crude, ruptured thousands of gallons into the Yellowstone River, and TransCanada’s six month old natural gas pipeline exploded near Bison, WY. Additionally, the recent spill of tar sands oil in Mayflower, AK, shows the immediate need for further study on the safety of tar sands oil being shipped through pipelines.
  • The Keystone XL Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan (DSEIS Appendix I) is inadequate and does not address the specific concerns of rural communities crossed by the pipeline.
  • The DSEIS itself observes the lack of infrastructure needed in rural areas, including a lack of hospitals, fire departments, and security. Solutions to these issues are not addressed, and need to be before the pipeline is approved.

    Deficient Economic Benefits & National Security

  • Oil in the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is destined for export, and will not make the US more energy secure. Additionally, TransCanada already has a pipeline in place to carry tar sands oil to a US refinery inland (Keystone I goes to Illinois).
  • Job numbers are over inflated and misrepresented – TransCanada has reported the Keystone XL pipeline will create between 20,000 and over 100,000 jobs, but the DSEIS states it will create only 35 permanent jobs.
  • Few local jobs will be created – only 10-15% of the total workforce would be hired locally. During Keystone 1 construction only 11% of the construction and inspection workforce in South Dakota was hired locally.
  • These numbers also do not reflect the potential job losses from the pipeline. When a spill occurs contamination of rivers, drinking water sources and the Ogallala Aquifer threaten the jobs and livelihoods of farmers, ranchers and those working in tourism.

    Unanswered Questions

  • Who ultimately must deal with the costs associated with a spill or damage? Because the IRS does not consider diluted bitumen to be oil, companies shipping tar sands oil through pipelines like Keystone XL do not pay into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, meaning taxpayers are directly responsible for the immediate costs of cleanup.
  • Experience from the Endbridge tarsands spill suggest that clean up tends to be incomplete, at times the contaminated oil is just buried, and it can take years for landowners to regain access. Can farmers and ranchers wait that long before ruining their livelihoods?

    Agricultural Impacts Not Considered

  • The DSEIS does not take into consideration the impacts to agriculture, including appropriate compensation for lost land production and livestock. For example, the DSEIS estimates it will take 1-20 years for land destroyed by construction to regain productivity, yet only holds TransCanada liable for full payment for one year.
  • The locations of pumping stations, transmission lines, and construction camps will directly affect agricultural production, yet its impacts are not taken into account in the DSEIS.
  • The environmental mitigation plans in the DSEIS, particularly those for water bodies that support agricultural production, are inadequate and incomplete, and do not take into consideration the chance for permanent damage by diluted bitumen spills.
  • Impacts on livestock from noise from the pumping stations, construction camps, and generators were not addressed in the DSEIS.

    Sample comment email:

    To the US State Department regarding the Keystone XL DSEIS:

    I am writing to ask you to reject the Keystone XL pipeline DSEIS for the following reasons:

    1: The DSEIS does not adequately address the safety concerns raised by constructing and maintaining a diluted bitumen pipeline in rural areas, including a lack of emergency response infrastructure to deal with inevitable spills.

    2: The benefits to the United States are minimal; the pipeline will not create sustainable jobs nor will it add to US energy security.

    3: The DSEIS does not take into account the amount of lost good agricultural land and resources, nor the risk to water supplies that sustain South Dakota’s agricultural producers.

    For these reasons, I urge you to reject the Keystone XL DSEIS.

    Thank you,

    [Your Name]



    For more information, contact Sabrina King at or 605.716.2200