by Susan Casey-Lefkowitz
Director, International Program, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)
Legislation headed to the House this week gives President Obama 60 days to decide whether to approve construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would carry the dirtiest oil on the planet mined and drilled from under the forests of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Thatís ridiculous. The Obama administration is on the case and has said it will take another year to conduct a thorough review of the economic, national security and environmental facets of this project. Itís irresponsible for Congress to insist that review be eliminated as a gift to Big Oil. It leaves the administration no choice but to bury this boondoggle for good — and we donít need 60 days to figure out why.
Take 60 seconds to read six reasons why it’s time to say “No” to the risky and reckless Keystone XL tar sands pipeline now.
1. It would transport the dirtiest oil on the planet.
It takes two tons of tar sands — strip-mined or drilled from the forest floor — to produce a single barrel of bitumen, a low-grade, high-sulfur crude oil that must be extensively refined to be turned into fuel. Producing bitumen generates three times the carbon pollution of producing conventional North American crude oil. And the additional refining required to turn this crud into fuel only makes matters worse.
2. It would kill more jobs than it would create.
House Republicans claim the pipeline will create tens of thousands of jobs. It won’t. The pipeline would create, at most, 6,500 temporary construction jobs, very few of which would be local hires, according to the U.S. State Department. After that, it would leave only “hundreds” of permanent jobs, according to TransCanada, the Canadian company that wants to build the pipeline. A Cornell University study concludes the pipeline would actually kill more jobs than it would create by reducing investment in the clean energy economy that already employs 2.7 million Americans.
3. It would make us more oil-dependent, not more secure.
The pipeline would terminate at Texas refineries and ports along the Gulf of Mexico. From there, tar sands crude could be exported anywhere in the world. Indeed, that’s part of the business plan for some of the companies that have promised to buy the oil. Military experts advise that the Keystone XL pipeline would perpetuate our deadly oil dependence and will not make us more secure.
4. It would require Americans to take on a risk to benefit oil companies that Canadians themselves are not willing to take.
Even Canada has put the brakes on their new proposed tar sands pipelines (the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline to the West coast and the Trailbreaker tar sands pipeline to the East) due to the need to take more time to listen to public concerns about water and safety. Why should Americans carry a risk that Canadians themselves are not willing to take?
5. It would threaten Americaís breadbasket and U.S. waterways.
The pipeline would cut through the heart of the Great Plains, land of more than 250,000 ranches and farms, putting our croplands and food producers at risk of oil spills across the American heartland. Republican leaders want an approval of the pipeline despite the fact that Nebraska has not even settled on a route to avoid the precious Ogallala Aquifer, where millions of Americans get their drinking water. Further, Keystone XL would cross more than 1,500 waterways, from the Yellowstone River in Montana to Pine Island Bayou in Texas, threatening them with the kind of accident that dumped 42,000 gallons of oil in the Yellowstone River last summer and put 20 times that much tar sands oil in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010 — a spill that still has yet to be cleaned up.
6. It would lay waste to Canadaís Boreal forest, home of our backyard birds.
Tar sands producers have already destroyed an area of Canada’s Boreal forest the size of Chicago, creating an industrial wasteland of toxic sludge dams in the heart of the Boreal. The forest is a critical nesting region for Americaís backyard birds and one of the last truly wild places on Earth. If the destruction continues, the total sacrifice area will be as large as the state of Florida.
The pipeline is a conduit to the past. Rather than deepening our addiction to fossil fuels, it’s time we did what presidents reaching back to Richard Nixon have called on us to do and reduce our dangerous dependence on oil.
It’s time to invest in wind, solar and other renewable fuels and the energy-efficient cars, workplaces and homes of tomorrow.
Go to http://www.stoptar.org to take action now.