Sign Up for Updates

Seals, Safety and Steyerganda

Billionaire Tom Steyer is once again using his hedge fund fortune to finance political theater in hopes of blocking construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Steyer’s nonprofit NextGen Climate hired a former Navy Seal to assess how vulnerable the KXL pipeline would be to terrorist attack:

“In a 14-page report made public today (but redacted to keep it from being a playbook for aspiring terrorists), Cooper concludes that a small group of evildoers could easily cause a catastrophic spill of millions of gallons of diluted bitumen, or tar sands crude, from the Keystone XL. They could do it with as little as four pounds of commercial-grade, improvised explosives. Cooper even did a dry run, using the completed Keystone I pipeline as a proxy; he hung out at a critical valve station long enough to content himself that he could have planted some explosives and left without a hitch.

In what Cooper deems “the most likely scenario,” a single attack could result in 1.2 million gallons of Alberta crude tarring Nebraska farms and waterways. He calculated this using published emergency shutdown response times and pipeline flow forecasts from the government and TransCanada (TRP:CN), the company that wants to build and operate the line. A coordinated attack at multiple locations, Cooper suggests, could trigger a 7.24 million gallon flood.” Read more about the report in this article from Bloomberg,

The report from Steyer’s most recent publicity stunt fails to address why the KXL would be more vulnerable to terrorist attack than the other millions of miles of pipeline that operate safely across the U.S. Bloomberg points out that “in an interview, Cooper readily acknowledged that the threat he observed was not unique to the completed Keystone I.”

What’s more, pipelines have been proven to be the safest way to transport oil in the U.S., with fewer accidents and injuries than any other mode of transport.

This is not the first time that Steyer has tried to use money to override the opinion of the American public, the majority of whom support construction of KXL. In 2013, Steyer funded ads attacking TransCanada’s CEO Russ Girling that were too offensive to be shown on air. According to CNBC, Steyer has vowed to spend “$100 million—$50 million personally and $50 million from others—in 2014 based on candidates’ views on the Keystone XL pipeline and other climate-change issues.” In lieu of the facts, Steyer is hoping that money and scare tactics will keep this important measure for U.S. energy stability from moving forward.