SANDPOINT — Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper does not expect railroad shipments through Bonner County to change if TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline is ultimately allowed to be completed.
The water quality watchdog group doesn’t believe the controversial pipeline will result in a decline of oil trains because most of them are carrying Bakken crude out of Nebraska rather than the tar sands bitumen coming from Canada.
“Bitumen is also transported in the same type of rail cars as Bakken crude and we experience a small degree of bitumen transport through the county coming from the north,” Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper Executive Director Shannon Williamson said on Friday.
However, development of the pipeline will indirectly affect Bonner County, Williamson said.
“Even though we in Bonner County will not be directly impacted by the pipeline from a transportation perspective, the build out of the pipeline will impact climate change, which certainly does affect us.
“Climate change and the integrity of water quality are inherently linked. As water quality advocates and protectors, LPOW views the Keystone XL pipeline as an inherent threat to our future quality of life in North Idaho,” she said.
The 36-inch-diameter crude oil pipeline would extend from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Neb.
TransCanada contends the project will produce thousands of well-paying jobs and represents a safe, reliable and environmentally sound way to connect the American economy with an abundant North American energy resource.
The U.S. State Department issued a presidential permit for completion of the project on March 24.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.