Enbridge, Enterprise To Increase Pipeline Capacity

North American oil production is expanding and that's creating demand for new ways to move that oil to market. Two energy companies — Enbridge Inc. and Enterprise Products Partners —have announced plans to build new pipelines that will stretch from Illinois to the Gulf Coast of Texas. Federal regulators would need to approve the plan.

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And the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, whose construction has been delayed over environmental concerns, could now face some competition.

As NPR's John Ydstie reports, two companies have announced plans to build pipelines that would carry out the same service as the XL, channeling oil from Canada's tar sands to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: The two companies, Enbridge Incorporated of Calgary, Alberta and Enterprise Products Partners of Houston say they're going to expand pipeline capacity from Flanagan, Illinois to Cushing, Oklahoma and then on to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Together, they would move as much as 850,000 barrels a day of crude, primarily from Canada's tar sands.

Anthony Swift, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, says that group opposes the proposed pipelines, just as it opposes the Keystone, even though they're routed along existing pipeline routes. Swift says that's partly because the consistency of tar sands crude makes it more likely to cause spills.

ANTHONY SWIFT: It so thick that it has to be moved at high pressures that increase the temperatures that these pipelines run at.

YDSTIE: In addition, says Swift, tar sands crude is undesirable because the level of pollution associated with extracting and using it is higher than for many other forms of crude.

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While they do need to be approved by federal regulators, the newly announced pipelines don't need the same presidential sign-off as the stalled Keystone XL. That's because the cross-border pipelines they connect to have already been built.

YDSTIE: John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington.

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