Concerned that the Keystone XL pipeline could be a potential terror target, hedge fund billionaire and environmentalist Tom Steyer hired a former Navy SEAL to assess the threat level of the pipeline. The former SEAL, David Cooper, was a former Booz Allen Hamilton consultant and retired Command Master Chief of SEAL Team 6.
Cooper spent 10 years in the military running threat assessments in Iraq and Afghanistan and, according to his report, found the Keystone pipeline to be an easy target for terror attacks. He noted that if an attack were to take place, the environmental fallout would be devastating on areas surrounding the pipeline.
The worst case scenario, according to Cooper, would be a single attack causing the spill of 1.2 million gallons of tar sands, and attacks at multiple spots could result in a spill of 7.24 million gallons of tar sands.
Security in several sections of the pipeline is very low. Cooper conducted a mock penetration called a “red cell scenario.” During this exercise, Cooper proved that even with “no practice or notification and very little planning,” anyone can just walk up to the pipeline undetected.
Terrorist groups have been known to target pipelines because attacking them disrupts commerce and the flow of valuable energy resources. Just last year, militants attacked a pipeline in northern Algeria, killing two guards and injuring seven others.
To give further credence to Cooper’s assessment, the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) conducted research and released a report about terrorist militants targeting oil pipelines. The 2003 report noted that “terrorist organizations have always been interested in targeting oil and gas facilities” as doing such undermines “the internal stability of the regimes they are fighting, and economically weaken[s] foreign powers.”
Discussing the subject of vulnerability, the IAGS noted similarly that terror groups have realized the “world’s energy system as a major vulnerability and a certain way to deliver a blow to America’s oil dependent economy.”
Along with being an outright threat to the environment, it appears that the Keystone XL pipeline sticks out like a sore thumb for any terrorists group, should they get the gall, to launch an attack. Do people still really want this thing to be built?