On the Friday before Labor Day -- in the form of an age-old "Friday News Dump" -- the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) handed a permit to Enbridge, the tar sands-carrying corporate pipeline giant, to open a tar sands-by-rail facility in Flanagan, Ill. by early-2016.
A U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that Enbridge's 600-mile-long Flanagan South Pipeline, a Keystone XL "clone," is legally cleared to proceed opening for business in October.
In a recent quarter two call for investors, Enbridge Inc executives said the company's "Keystone XL" clone -- the combination of the Flanagan South and Seaway Twin pipelines -- will open for business by October.
What the industry and oil-soaked politicians are unlikely to discuss, though, is the Plains All American connection to Keystone XL. That connection comes in the form of Cushing, Oklahoma, home of another key Plains crude oil holding facility.
there's a fork in this controversial pipeline system that has largely flown under the radar: TransCanada's Houston Lateral Pipeline, which serves as a literal fork in the road of the southern half of Keystone XL's route to Gulf Coast refineries.
Unlike Keystone XL -- which would carry diluted tar sands diluted bitumen ("dilbit") south to the Gulf Coast -- Kinder Morgan's Cochin pipeline would carry the gas condensate (diluent) used to dilute the bitumen north to the tar sands.
A year later, the cleanup continues, and it is clear that we were asking the right questions. The oil spill packed a bigger wallop than anyone expected at the time because of the unique properties of tar sands oil.