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Building Tar Sands Pipeline Would Be ‘Insane,’ Sanders Says

WASHINGTON - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today that it would be “insane” to construct the Keystone XL pipeline to ship the dirtiest oil on the planet from Canada’s tar sands region to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.

“The scientific community is telling us that we have a narrow window of opportunity to address the crisis of climate change and to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” Sanders said in prepared remarks. “This legislation would move us in exactly the wrong direction toward not only more dependence on fossil fuels but on some of the dirtiest fossil fuel imaginable.  That is insane.”

The looming planetary crisis of global warming caused by emissions of greenhouse gasses already is causing drought, forest fires, floods, extreme weather disturbances and rising sea levels, according to a recent report by a United Nations scientific panel. “It is imperative, for the future well-being of this country, that we listen to the scientists,” Sanders said.  

Sanders also disputed pipeline proponents who bill the project as a way to create jobs. In fact, he said, there would be fewer than 50 permanent jobs if the pipeline were to be completed. “To talk about 50 permanent jobs as a ‘jobs program’ is nothing more than a cruel and misleading hoax to workers in this country who want and need decent-paying jobs.”

The company pushing the pipeline, TransCanada, has claimed that anywhere from 9,000 to 20,000 actual construction workers would be employed in building the pipeline, but no credible studies support those claims. A Cornell University study said the project would create no more than 2,500 to 4,650 temporary, direct construction jobs over two years. The State Department’s estimate is even lower: fewer than 2,000 construction jobs over two years.

“In my view, we do need a major jobs program but this isn’t it,” Sanders said.  He called on Congress instead to pass a meaningful infrastructure rebuilding program to address unemployment, which the Labor Department put at 11.5 percent for October. That figure counts those forced to settle for part-time jobs and those who gave up hunting for work.

“If we are serious about a jobs program, let us rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, our roads, bridges, water systems, rail, airports and older schools.  Let us create jobs by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency, weatherization and sustainable energy.  That is a program that will create millions of decent jobs.”


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United States Senator for Vermont

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