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August 26, 2011

Opposition to Keystone XL Pipeline Heats Up

ND spill

UPDATE: The U.S. State Department's final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline has been released - and they are endorsing this dirty tar sands oil monstrosity. In their terminology, the State Department "does not regard the No Action Alternative to be preferable to the proposed Project."

From earlier: By now you've probably heard of the arrests of more than 300 protests made in front of the White House. They're out there protesting the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline - and finally the media is starting to take notice. The NY Times ran an editorial against the plan - even The New Yorker had an in-depth piece on the controversy surrounding this pipeline that would import one of the dirtiest fuels on earth - tar sands oil - from Canada into the United States.

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune was quoted in this article in The Hill about the political implications for President Obama if he approves this controversial project. Of course, big polluters and their supporters are trying to strike back. In one example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is complaining about there not being a groundswell of support for Keystone XL.

This fight and its big-polluting-backers will last into the fall when Congress is back in session. A bill backed by Reps Fred Upton and Lee Terry that would expedite the approval of Keystone XL (HR1938) to November 1st of this year passed the House this summer and may move to the Senate as early as September.

As we noted with our colleagues in a letter to Congressional reps earlier this summer, this is simply the latest in a series of harmful bills recklessly pushed by Big Oil and its allies in Congress in order to promote the failed energy policies of the past rather than pursuing clean energy solutions that will create jobs, improve our national security, and protect the planet from climate-disrupting pollution.

Thankfully, the White House opposes this bill, but now we'd like to see them and the State Department reject Keystone XL all together. As noted before, the opposition to this project is heating up - even a number of labor groups announced their opposition last week.

Keystone XL is not about energy security. In addition to its massive pollution and potential leak disasters, it would grant the tar sands industry their first major access to an international shipping port where they can send tar sands across the globe. There is no guarantee this oil will even be used in the United States.

From the risks of the pipeline to the Ogallala Aquifer in the central U.S. (which provides drinking water to millions of Americans), to its massive contribution to climate disrupting pollution, to the public health effects on the residents living near the refineries in Texas, to the wild lands, animals, and people threatened by tar sands expansion in Canada – the list goes on and on. We cannot afford to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It’s too dirty, too dangerous, and we don't need it.

You can learn more in our many previous posts on tar sands and this specific controversial project, or in this great primer by Mother Jones reporter Kate Sheppard, who wisely tweeted late Thursday: "Arrests at WH Keystone XL protest up to 275. Can you imagine how much more coverage this would get if 272 tea partiers had been arrested?"

Photo from a tar sands oil spill in North Dakota earlier this summer.

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