Rush, Top House Democrats Urge GAO to Conduct Review After Third Major Keystone Pipeline Spill

Nov 18, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Energy Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), along with Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.); Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.); and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Dan Lipinski (D-IL), officially requested the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a review of the operator of the Keystone Pipeline System as well as the federal agency that oversees it. The request comes on the heels of a crude oil spill in Edinburg, North Dakota, the third major spill from the pipeline in three years. 

“The public has a legitimate expectation that the Keystone Pipeline System managed by TC Energy operate safely and without repeated incidents that damage the environment and threaten the public’s health and security. Yet we are faced with the third occurrence of a significant pipeline leak that has devastating impacts to both the environment and nearby communities. The frequency and severity of these incidents on the Keystone Pipeline System raises serious questions about both the integrity management program of TC Energy and whether adequate oversight and operating conditions have been put in place by PHMSA to ensure the safe operation of this high-pressure system. This is particularly concerning as TC Energy continues to pursue additional build-out of the Keystone Pipeline System with the Keystone XL Pipeline,” the Members wrote.

On October 30, 2019, TC Energy notified the National Response Center of a crude oil spill from its Keystone Pipeline System. With this spill, the pipeline leaked an estimated 383,040 gallons. To date, the three major reported spills have released an estimated 609,840 gallons, endangering nearby wetlands and groundwater resources and leaving possibly irreversible damage in its wake.

The Chairmen are requesting GAO complete a comprehensive review to examine whether TC Energy is in compliance with all of its special permitting requirements, as well as assessing if the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is exercising proper oversight of this pipeline.

A full copy of the letter can be found here and below.