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Former Chief of Navy SEALs Finds Keystone XL an Easy Terror Target

Crews work on construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline east of Winona, Texas on Dec. 3, 2012
Crews work on construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline east of Winona, Texas on Dec. 3, 2012Photograph by Sarah A. Miller/The Tyler Morning Telegraph via AP Photo

If reporting on the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Even so, we didn’t see this one coming.

Hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, a climate change activist and staunch opponent of the prospective 1,179-mile pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to Cushing, Okla., has hired retired Navy SEAL chief David “Dave” Cooper to assess how vulnerable the Keystone XL might be to deliberate sabotage. 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.