The Keystone Preview Reel
January 29, 2014, 3:00am

We’re still waiting to see if the president is going to sign off on the rest of Keystone XL pipeline, the continent-spanning death funnel that will bring the world’s dirtiest fossil fuels from the environmental moonscape of northern Alberta down through the richest farmland in the world down to the refineries of Texas, whence it will be sold to China. We say “the rest of the pipeline” because one stretch of it already has been built, and TransCanada, the foreign corporation seeking to build the pipeline, is grabbing up land in Texas because Texas is “business-friendly,” which means the state government has the right to sell drilling rights to your spleen.

(To be fair, the Texas Supreme Court stepped in earlier this month to slow things down a bit, at least.)

TransCanada’s need to repair the pipeline before it started pumping oil fueled the opposition. So did letters the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration sent TransCanada in September warning of dents in the pipeline and complaining the company did not use qualified welders. The federal agency gave the pipeline its approval, though, and TransCanada’s executives said Wednesday that the spill protections are state of the art. “This is the safest oil pipeline that has been built in America to date,” said TransCanada president and CEO Girling.
Dents. And unqualified welders. And ironclad banality. I certainly am reassured. And why would we not believe these guys? What possibly could be the reason?

A natural gas pipeline explosion near Otterburne, Man., 50 kilometres south of Winnipeg, has left thousands without heat as temperatures drop to -20 C, or -34 C with the wind chill. A fire is out after burning for more than 12 hours at the site of a natural gas pipeline explosion near Otterburne, Man., about 50 kilometres south of Winnipeg. But officials say there are now natural gas outages affecting as many as 4,000 people in nearby communities, where temperatures dipped to near -20 C overnight.
Sounds bad.

“Massive, like absolutely massive,” he said. “The police were by [Highway] 59 and you could just see little cars out there and you could see in comparison how big the flame was. It was just literally two to 300 metres in the air. And bright, I mean lit up the sky.” Tyler Holigroski, wholives in the Otterburnearea, remembers seeing a flickering, bright light in the sky. “Thought it was the neighbours’ house or something like that,” he said. “I thought there was a fire, but the way it lit the sky, it was like the sun coming up. The only thing is it was flashing. It would get brighter, get dim, get brighter, go dim. “It lit up the whole sky here for half an hour,” Holigroski said.
Somebody should look into this.

The pipeline, which is owned by TransCanada, has been temporarily shut down according to a statement from a company spokesman. The statement also said that nearby roads have been closed, and that the company is not aware of any reports of injuries. However, five houses within the vicinity of the fire were evacuated by RCMP and St-Pierre-Jolys Fire Department. The residents of two of the homes have been allowed to return, but police were not letting residents return to the three homes closest to the site. Crews spent most of the day venting the natural gas from the system to eliminate the fuel source for the fire. The company said that process generated a loud noise but posed no risk to the public. By Saturday afternoon, more than 12 hours after it started, TransCanada officials said the fire was out.
Coming soon to a pasture near you.