Rescind Approval for the Environmentally Devastating Oil Pipeline

Target: US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton, US President Barack Obama

Goal: Shut down the Keystone XL Pipeline, which will devastate the environment, economy, and human health across the United States.

On August 26th, the US Department of State approved TransCanada’s 1,711-mile scar across America’s environmentally vulnerable Great Plains and Gulf Coast. The Keystone XL Pipeline will transport crude oil from Alberta to Texas, cleaving the natural landscapes of Saskatchewan, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. (Since when does the Gulf Coast state that proudly put the big “business” B in “Big Oil” need foreign oil anyway?) In its final environmental impact statement (EIS), the US Department of State admitted that “oil sands crude is, on average, more greenhouse gas intensive than the crude oil it would replace in the US,” but postulated that the security benefits of importing oil from a friendly neighbor would offset the potential environmental damage.

Tar sands oil is one of the world’s dirtiest fuels: carbon dioxide emissions in production are three times higher than conventional oil, and tailing ponds of toxic sludge poison indigent and indigenous populations. Downstream communities testified to increased incidence of rare cancers, renal failure, lupus, and hyperthyroidism. In Fort Chipewyan alone, 100 lakeside residents died of cancer. While dirty oil makes off with profits, the U.S. government and citizens will foot the bills for environmental cleanup, healthcare, and lost productivity. A tar sand operation leaves large amounts of water waste in its wake, taking three barrels of water to extract one barrel of oil and using approximately 400 million gallons of water a day. In a world where potable water is in short supply – no thanks to the pollution caused by the tar sand oil extraction process itself – decreasing the amount of clean water to increase the amount of dirty oil is a nonsensical and self-destructive policy. NASA scientist James Hansen decried the pipeline project as “game over” for curbing climate change.

This decision makes little security sense and exacts a massive environmental toll: Waterways, soil, and wildlife species are at risk throughout the entire country, and America would still rely on foreign fossil fuels. TransCanada crows that the “$13 billion Keystone pipeline system will play an important role in… significantly improving North American security supply,” but even the State Department’s erstwhile EIS estimates the frequency of oil spills at 1.78-2.51 spills per year, which would cost incalculable damage to American ecological systems and wildlife. If that’s not enough, the National Response Center indicates that the existing Keystone I pipeline leaked a dozen spills during its first year of operation, including the May 7th disaster which discharged more than 400 barrels (16,800 gallons) in North Carolina. Despite TransCanada’s slipshod record with environmental stewardship, the US State department actually credited the energy corporation as having reduced the risks of an accident to an acceptable level. Even the low end of the EIS estimate, 1.78 spills a year, is not an acceptable level – especially when 900,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil will flow into the US each day. In this political and ecological environment, who gets the money (Canadian energy giants) and who’s more secure (not the US)? Implore the Obama administration to terminate the tar sands oil pipeline and invest in environmentally friendly (and more effective) growth areas, such as alternative fuels and public transportation infrastructure.


Dear US Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama:

TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline proposes to transport tar sands oil across six states and key sources of drinking and agricultural water for millions of Americans: the Ogallala Aquifer and the Missouri, Yellowstone, and Red Rivers. The Department of State’s environmental impact statement (EIS) grossly understates the ensuing environmental and health hazards posed by the TransCanada’s Gulf Coast Expansion project – which includes the unsafe disposal of 90% of polluted extraction process water into neighboring clean water supplies, paltry pipeline integrity leading to frequent oil spills, and toxic refinery emissions in overburdened, low-income communities of color.

Construction of the 36-inch pipeline itself will significantly disturb the existing environment across vast swathes of America. The anticipated oil spills will not only decimate fragile flora and fauna, it will sully the aquifers which provide 30% of our nation’s agricultural irrigation water and drinking water for millions of people in seven states. At the end of the pipeline, tar sands oil refineries produce higher emissions of toxic sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide than conventional oil, raining respiratory diseases and asthma into neighboring high-poverty and minority communities. You know it’s a major health and economic hazard when even Republican Senator Mike Johanns sends castigating letters to the State Department to expose their inadequate environmental evaluation. TransCanada’s 1,711-mile Keystone XL Pipeline will destroy environmentally sensitive areas, especially given the corporation’s sordid history of recurring oil spills. We advocate that the Obama administration rescind approval for the Keystone XL expansion project and invest instead in alternative energy sources which actually benefit the environment, secure US independence from foreign oil, and promote healthier American communities.


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  1. Sandra Bryan says:

    More of US are watching how you vote – many have lost their jobs due to the votes they cast and more will fall if you don’t follow the will of the American People!

  2. Mary Hebblewhite says:

    Pres. Obama & Sec. Clinton: I voted Obama. I will again. So did 9 voters in my family. Obama’s most compelling and most crucial platform plank was to build an economy reorganized around new lower carbon energies and energy conservation technologies and applications. There IS nothing more important than doing all we can to stem climate warming. Tar Sands Mining, no. Too C02 intensive to mine it and net gain too little. Mr. Obama — get your groove back.

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