Eleven influential senators led by Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) wrote a letter to Secretary Hillary Clinton urging her to answer some critical questions before granting approval to the massive Keystone XL pipeline, which would pump tar sands crude from Montana to Texas and through the largest aquifer in the US.
The senators highlighted ten concerns with the current proposal, including a failure to account for dramatic increases in greenhouse gas emissions, lack of proposed alternatives to the pipeline like efficiency measures and bio-fuels, and increased pollution in American communities already suffering from toxic refineries. The Senators also pointed to the possibility of the Keystone XL opening up an international market for tar sands in the Gulf, increasing our risk from more toxic spills without providing the energy security proponents tout.
This letter adds to the growing wave of resistance to the Keystone XL project. Thousands of citizens have written to Secretary Clinton opposing the pipeline, the EPA and the Department of Interior gave the State Department’s initial environmental impact analysis a failing grade, and the Department Of Energy has questioned the purported energy security benefits of this risky project.
“As you recently stated, tar sands oil is “dirty oil.” Approval of this pipeline will significantly increase our dependence on this oil for decades,” the senators wrote. “We believe the Department of State (DOS) should not pre-judge the outcome of what should be a thorough, transparent analysis of the need for this oil and its impacts on our climate and clean energy goals.”
The letter comes as a response to remarks Clinton made last week indicating her department was “inclined” to support the Keystone XL. In addressing the pointed concerns raised by this influential group of lawmakers, Secretary Clinton will find it difficult to simply rubber-stamp to another oil industry mega-project, especially in light of the Obama administration’s stated goals of reducing oil consumption and carbon emissions.
In determining if the Keystone XL is truly in the “national interest”, Secretary Clinton must realize that the interests of major oil companies do not align with the nation-wide effort to reduce our costly and deadly addiction to dirty fossil fuels. The concerns raised by these Senators make it increasingly clear that locking in dependence on more of the world's dirtiest oil is the wrong decision for America's clean energy future, and Secretary Clinton must deny the Keystone XL pipeline.
-- Gabriel DeRita