Enjoy, Explore, and Protect the Planet Sierra Club Allegheny Group, Pennsylvania Chapter


Keystone XL Pipeline Halted – For Now

Keystone XL demonstrators surrounding the White House, Nov. 6, 2011.

In welcoming President Obama’s denial of a permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, SC Executive Director Micheal Brune stated on January 18, ”President Obama’s announcement is an outright rejection of Speaker Boehner’s cynical attempt to play political football with Americans’ health. Unfortunately, we know that Big Oil and their cronies in Congress will not give up their endless pursuit of profits at the cost of Americans’ health and prosperity. We thank the President for listening to the concerns of American farmers, landowners and people who care about clean air, clean water and our climate future.”

In standing up to Big Oil and the Republican leadership, President Obama truly deserves a note of THANKS.

The international conglomerate TransCanada has already announced that it will re-apply for a permit to build the 1,661 mile long pipeline, a pipeline that would transport more than 900,000 barrels of heated toxic tar sand crude under high pressure each day. In that case, and with Republicans in Congress making as much political hay as they can for as long as they can, the Keystone XL pipeline issue will be with us for some time.

To say the pipeline is controversial is an understatement. It touches on Presidential election politics, job creation, relationships with the conservative government in Canada, the international oil market, etc., as discussed in a new Time article and as an Washington Post OpEd article explains, five major myths need to be examined closely. Even the Brits are in on the controversy, calling for the UK government to drop support of Canada’s promotion of fossil fuels.

Still, the environmental issues are numerous, from destruction of the boreal forest in Alberta and daily consumption of 400 million gallons of water, to questions about the impact on climate change. In a Special Report back in June 2010 the National Wildlife Federation sets out five principal reasons why the pipeline should NOT be built, arguing that the project:

  1. Will create a massive pollution delivery system of dirty fuel to the U.S. that will lock our country into an extraordinarily damaging and inefficient fuel source for decades.
  2. Will detract from the imperative for the U.S. to develop more efficient, cleaner and more productive fuels that are better for our economy, national security, and environment.
  3. Will create thousands of miles of new pipelines that cut through sensitive wetlands, cross rivers, threaten aquifers, take farmland out of production, force ranchers and farmers to lose their land, and lead to an inevitable likelihood of spilling or leaking.
  4. Will encourage the Canadian government to continue destroying the boreal forest, polluting watersheds and destroying wetlands of vital importance toNorth American wildlife, including waterfowl and other migrating birds.
  5. Will create more air and water pollution in U.S. communities where the pipeline’s tar sands oil will be refined.
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