Treadwell: Delaying Keystone Pipeline a Risk to Alaska

Friday, March 07 2014

The Redeemer at salvager Dan Magone's dock in Unalaska. /Credit: Lauren Rosenthal

Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell said in a speech Friday that delaying approval of the Keystone Pipeline will mean more oil tankers and oil spills in Alaskan waters.

Treadwell spoke at the annual Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference, or SWAMC, in Anchorage. He said without a pipeline to the Lower 48, Canada will ship more of its oil west to Asia on the Great Circle Route.

Treadwell said that means more big tankers, and potential oil spills, in the already crowded Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. He called on President Obama to consider the safety of Alaska’s fishing industry and speed up approval for the pipeline.

Treadwell said Alaska is already struggling to cope with vessel traffic from Arctic oil development. The increase is stretching response capabilities, according to Unalaska-based salvager Dan Magone. Magone discussed marine safety in a recent interview on KUCB’s public affairs show “The Exchange.”

"Increases of traffic in the Aleutian Islands with shipping going across the North Pacific – it’s beyond the capability of what my small company could respond to properly," Magone says.

Magone says his salvage business has had to expand with the increasing traffic – merging with Florida-based Resolve Marine Services, for one. They’ve brought in new response equipment to deal with larger ships and larger problems, and he says other groups will have to do the same.

Lt. Gov. Treadwell said in his speech to SWAMC that there aren’t enough regulations in place to keep foreign ships from posing a spill risk in the Aleutians. But Magone says more traffic has meant better oversight.

"The big ships and that sort of thing, they’re not just going anywhere they want anymore," he said. "They need to be accountable now, and so they’re reporting what they’re doing, being monitored, that sort of thing."

In fact, Magone says the fishing fleet travels the most under the radar. But he says the Bering Sea’s riskiest spots, like Unimak Pass near Unalaska, have protocols in place for how ships should operate. He says those protocols will have to keep evolving as traffic increases.

bobby on Monday, March 10 2014:

Pipeline is a joke. When the pipeline reaches it's end in Louisiana the gas company will ship to the highest bidder. What do we get?

Look for cause not effect on Monday, March 10 2014:

The reason we need all this oil and the reason we have climate change is us - the homo sapien - 7 Billion + in population thoughts of controlling our growth is ever discussed - so we will continue to burn fossil fuels and over consume by until the planet/climate makes it less habitable or we have a plague because of an antibiotic virus that can reduce the human population by around 1/2 ....Just saying no more oil drilling or pipelines because we might spill some sounds noble, but what is really needed is to reduce consumption of oil

Earl Richards on Sunday, March 09 2014:

The Keystone XL pipeline should not be built, because a tar sands spill down into the Ogallala Aquifer will poison the drinking water for millions and will destroy the Great Plains agriculture.

jan freed on Saturday, March 08 2014:

There are many good reasons to say "no" to Keystone.

The IEA estimates that Keystone would harvest 3 times the carbon that would take us over 2 degrees C, the absolute limit for a catastrophe we might survive, if we're lucky.

See: "IEA acknowledges fossil fuel reserves climate crunch"

We are of warned of a potential climate abyss by our most trusted messengers, such as NOAA, NASA, the Royal Academy of UK (SIr Isaac Newton was president), National Academy of Sciences (Einstein was a member) the World Bank, the IMF, of disastrous health effects by American Academy of Pediatrics, WHO and the AMA.

We cannot rely on State Department assessments, if made by employees of the carbon industries.

And it would strip forests the size of Florida, forests that might have absorbed enormous quantities of CO2 before they were removed as "overburden". Would Keystone "replace" those forests? They say they repair any damage, right? Laughable.

Even 2 degrees itself may be too high - a "prescription for
disaster" says Dr. James Hansen, chief climatologist at NASA (ret.) , one who, early on, recognized the threat of carbon pollution.

We have had just a bitter taste of the weird weather out there, with just .8 deg C, say virtually all scientists. Shall we roll the dice for our kids and grand kids, saying "let it ride!" beyond 2 degrees and more? No, a trip to Disney World does not make up for that.

Keystone XL is not a smart gamble.

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