The Obama Administration is currently deciding whether to approve the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, a new 2,000 mile pipeline which would bring nearly one million barrels a day of dirty tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Department of State should issue a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Keystone XL project. The public and cooperating agencies deserve the opportunity to review and comment on the myriad impacts of this massive energy infrastructure project that were left unaddressed in the Draft EIS before the Department finalizes the EIS.
The deficiencies in the Draft EIS have been publicly highlighted by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Interior, and numerous U.S. Senators and Representatives. Among these were the inadequate assessments of the need for the project, its impact on other energy supply options, the frequency and impact of diluted bitumen pipeline spills, and its route through one of America’s most important natural resources, the Ogallala Aquifer. Other inadequacies of the document include a lack of consideration of the project’s potential impacts on trans-boundary greenhouse gas emissions, spill response, and air quality in the communities surrounding the refineries that the pipeline would service. Chairman Waxman, Senator Johanns, and the EPA have all explicitly called for a Supplemental EIS to address these issues.
The BP Gulf disaster and numerous pipeline spills over the past six months have dramatically altered the cultural context of this decision and have only increased its controversial nature. Landowners in right-of-way states are justifiably concerned. These technical and contextual changes further necessitate the release of a revised document to be circulated for public comment.
Tar sands is one of the dirtiest forms of oil production, emitting carbon dioxide at a rate three times higher than conventional oil, using significant amounts of water during extraction, and creating toxic lagoons in the process, which leak over a billion gallons of contaminated water each year.
President Obama has called for an end to business as usual in the government oversight prescribed to big oil. But if the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline is approved, it will be big oil cutting corners and getting its way all over again.
We have started to take a step forward, but Canadian tar sands oil and the Keystone XL pipeline would be two steps backwards. We can end oil dependence in a generation, but only if we resist Big Oil’s call to invest billions more in dirty fuel infrastructure.
Let’s start working for a clean transportation future. We must finally break our oil addiction. Let’s not start in a decade, when oil is dirtier and running out faster. Say no to tar sands oil!
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