This isn't about the Keystone XL pipeline, but Enbridge is becoming a dirty word in U.S. circles for pipeline spills.
Enbridge is in trouble from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PMHSA) on a corrective action order concerning a pipeline spill in Wisconsin. The company came under harsh criticism from the agency after 1,200 barrels of oil spilled late last week near Grant Marsh, Wisconsin.
On July 10, National Transportation Safety Board's chair Deborah Hersman compared Enbridge to the "Keystone Kops" concerning the company's response to its massive spill in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010.
"The history of failures on [Enbridge's] Lakehead Pipeline system, of which the affected pipeline is part, the defects originally discovered during construction, and the 2007 failure indicate that [Enbridge's] integrity management program may be inadequate," said Jeffrey Wiese, associate administrator for pipeline safety at the PHMSA, about the Wisconsin spill.
Enbridge is the company wanting to build a pipeline from the oil sands to the Pacific Ocean through British Columbia. The concern over Enbridge is part of the reason why B.C. Premier Christy Clark is balking at the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
If the Western pipeline gets built, the pressure to send oil to the United States via the Keystone XL pipeline would be reduced. That timeline is a long way off, but Stephen Harper's government has made it clear that some country will get the oil from Alberta.
Then again, the southern route of the Keystone XL pipeline is almost certain to be approved shortly. Regardless of who is president in 2013, the northern route is likely to be approved. If Obama remains in the White House, the environmental issues in Nebraska will still need a solution. Otherwise, there is no reason why the Keystone XL pipeline will be built.
Though the Keystone XL pipeline is a TransCanada operation, the two U.S. Midwestern spills of Canadian oil do not help the reputation of Canada and pipelines. Enbridge's sloppy behavior before and after spills aren't inspiring confidence in either country.