The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is a project that would transport extremely toxic tar sands oil 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada through the middle of the US heartland to the Texas Gulf coast for refining. Tar sands oil production is one of the most destructive strip mining techniques on earth and results in deforestation, habitat loss, ground water contamination, pillaging of native lands, and three times the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere than that of traditional oil.
Tar sands oil is amongst the dirtiest and carbon-intensive fuels on earth, and a spill along the pipeline’s route will be catastrophic for American farmers and residents in the region, fish and wildlife, and the food supply. The recent pipeline spills of tar sands oil into the Yellowstone River on July 1, 2011 and the massive spill in the Kalamazoo River in July 2010 underscore the dangers of this type of pipeline. Most troubling, the first Keystone pipeline, developed with state-of-the-art technology and only in operation since June 2010, has already spilled 12 times in its first year in operation, which is a stark reminder of the risks involved with this proposed expansion project.
Canadian towns near the tar sands production are already reeling from the impacts of this dirty fuel, and now a foreign corporation, TransCanada, wants to jeopardize Americans with the same type of environmental destruction for the sake of private industry profits.
At a time when America needs to reduce its reliance on oil and to protect the environment for future generations, the Keystone XL pipeline would keep our country addicted to this unsustainable and highly polluting fuel even longer. Instead of recklessly fast-tracking this dangerous project, the US could instead be focusing our attention on encouraging lightweight and fuel-efficient vehicles, electrification of transportation, expansion of mass-transit, and other proven solutions for reducing our oil demand, while preserving our environment at the same time.
Changing the way we use energy is in our national interest. As President Obama himself has said, “For the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, we must end the age of oil in our time.” Denying the permit for Keystone XL will send a powerful signal that the United States is boldly taking action on climate change and clean energy by refusing to be tethered to the energy sources of the past.
We call on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama to fulfill their promises to act on climate change by denying the permit for Keystone XL.