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August 17, 2011

Stop Tar Sands: We Don’t Need Keystone XL

Canadian Tar Sands Let’s look beyond the fake grassroots campaigns and bullying of landowners by supporters and planners of the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. Let’s instead look at something even more important: We don’t need this expensive, dangerous and polluting project that only continues our dependence on fossil fuels and threatens our climate - We need better transportation policy.

Our country needs to break its oil dependence and act to prevent climate disruption– and President Obama just made two major decisions on fuel economy and carbon pollution standards for cars and trucks that move us toward that goal. Not only will these standards cut our oil use, but they will also dramatically cut carbon pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that in 2018 the new truck rule alone will reduce carbon pollution by 25 million metric tons annually.

In comparison, the agency’s analysis of the carbon impacts of tar sands oil that the Keystone XL would deliver found that the project would increase annual emissions by 27 million metric tons. Why would the Obama Administration want to undo the progress made with car and truck fuel pollution standards by allowing Keystone XL?

If we are cleaning up cars and trucks of all kinds, then we cannot ignore the fuels going into the cleaner cars. Vehicle standards won't solve our problem if we’re using the dirtiest of fuels out there. The fact is, we cannot stop the threat of climate disruption by moving emissions around. We cannot reduce carbon pollution from vehicles and then increase them again via fuels.

We don’t need Keystone XL or any future tar sands oil projects. Thankfully there are some in Congress who agree – especially on the public health impacts of tar sands. Yesterday, Rep. Hank Johnson sent a letter to the Department of State urging them to conduct a study on the health impacts of raw tar sands crude oil. Johnson was joined by 35 members of the House in exhibiting their responsibility as elected officials to protect the wellbeing of their constituents, rather than the profits of Big Oil companies.

Instead of dirty, polluting tar sands, what we need is a national transportation plan that cuts demand for oil while increasing mobility and choices. We need sustainable communities that are walkable and bikeable ­ so we’re not relying more on cars – even ones that use less oil.

The Obama Administration has taken some good strides in reducing our oil dependence with historic vehicle standards. Just one wrong decision such as TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline could undermine these important gains.  

The right decision is to say no to the dirtiest fuels – we should say no to Keystone XL.

-- Co-written by Sierra Club Green Transportation Director Ann Mesnikoff and Kate Colarulli, Associate Director of the Beyond Oil Campaign. Done as part of the DailyKos "Stop Tar Sands" blog-a-thon.


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