The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

Lawmakers Push Disastrous Legislation on Keystone XL

Law Would Force Presidential Decision on Controversial, Destructive Pipeline in 60 Days


The House Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing today on legislation called the "North American Energy Security Act," which would require President Barack Obama to issue a permit on the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline within 60 days of the law's enactment or determine the pipeline is not in the national interest. The legislation comes on the heels of a decision by the State Department to delay the pipeline's approval to allow for more study of its environmental impacts on our land, air, water and climate.

"Once again congressional Republicans are paying more attention to their deep-pocketed campaign contributors in oil and gas than to the American public, which overwhelmingly opposes more tar-sands development, including the Keystone pipeline," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "If it passes, this law will end careful consideration of the devastating impacts of Keystone, doing terrible damage to representative government as well as to the environment."

The 1,700-mile pipeline would, every day, transport up to 35 million gallons of oil derived from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, through the middle of the United States to refineries in Texas. In the process it would cross hundreds of streams and rivers and pass through wildlife habitat that would be at an increased risk of disastrous oil spills.

Strip mining of oil from Alberta's tar sands has already destroyed tens of thousands of acres of boreal forest and polluted hundreds of millions of gallons of water from the Athabasca River, creating toxic ponds so large they can be seen from space. Processing and refinement of tar-sands oil produces two to three times more greenhouse gases per barrel than conventional oil and represents a massive new source of fossil fuels, which leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has called "game over" for our ability to avoid climate catastrophe.

If this were not enough, the caustic oil known as bitumen, which would be transported across six states and thousands of water bodies, poses an unacceptable risk of spill. An existing pipeline, Keystone 1, has already leaked 14 times since it went operational in June 2010; one spill dumped 21,000 gallons of tar-sands crude. Another tar-sands pipeline spilled more than a million gallons in the Kalamazoo River.

"From the Alberta tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico, the Keystone XL pipeline would be an environmental disaster," said Greenwald. "Americans deeply value clean air and water, and we need to be able to trust our leaders to protect our children's future. Keystone XL should not be approved at all, and clearly it shouldn't be rushed to approval by cynical politicians making an end run around democracy."

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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