Media Coverage of Oil Sands Pipelines: A Chronological Record of Headlines from 2010 to 2014

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  • Until recently pipelines have not received much public or media attention. The lines, and the companies that operated them, flew under the radar. Their journeys through the regulatory system were usually simple, quick and free of rancor. This is certainly no longer the case. Applications for pipeline projects like Enbridge’s Northern Gateway to the west coast or TransCanada’s Keystone XL to the US Gulf coast have become lightning rods for public and media attention. Even possible projects that have not yet been applied for, such as the potential reversal of the Portland Montreal line, have triggered passionate debate. The situation was not helped by the high profile spill from an Enbridge pipeline into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, and subsequent suggestions that oil sands are more corrosive than “regular” oil. In addition to triggering media and public attention, the Northern Gateway and Keystone have resulted in frictions among jurisdictions (Alberta and BC and Canada and the US, respectively). As pipeline approvals slowed to a crawl amidst increasing oil sands production companies began to look for alternative methods to get product to market. Articles on the potential for rail shipments, and subsequent reports on the increasing use of rail, started to show up. However, this alternative was not without controversy as a series of high profile rail accidents showed. Shipping also received attention, both in relation to offshore transport from pipeline terminals such as Northern Gateway and TransMountain, but also concerns that bitumen may be shipped on the Great Lakes. It would be a good thing if all of this attention served to create and nurture a forum for civil discourse that would advance the public’s understanding of the role of pipelines in our daily lives and allow them to be better informed participants in the regulatory process. However the nature and tone of the dialogue has not served us well – instead it has resulted in divisions, protests and civil disobedience. This report provides a chronological record of media headlines related to a variety of pipelines and pipeline proposals in Canada and the United States from April 2010 to December 19, 2014. The headlines were retrieved from OSRIN’s What’s New series ( – our daily news feed) and from the OSRIN Videos collection ( This is certainly not intended to be a full record of all media headlines on the subject – we attempted to provide a range of views from a variety of different sources in keeping with our mandate to provide a balanced view of oil sands development.

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    Attribution 3.0 International