Tar Sands Solutions Network

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Keystone XL

The Keystone XL pipeline poses tremendous risks to people and communities along its entire route through the heart of the United States. Inevitable leaks of tar sands crude would pollute important water sources, including the Ogallala aquifer, one of the most important sources of water in the Midwest.

More importantly, building Keystone is an integral part of the oil industry's reckless expansion of the tar sands, and commits us to 50+ more years of fossil fuel dependence that will cause climate catastrophe. A recent analysis indicates the pipeline would be responsible for emissions comparable to more than 37.7 million cars or 51 coal-fired power plants.

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A new, 850,000 barrel per day pipeline from Alberta to Texas
Key Problems:
- Pipeline crosses numerous waterways
- Export only pipeline creates little benefit or jobs for Americans
- Unlocks massive growth of tar sands, causing climate catastrophe  
Current Status:
- President Obama expected to make final decision late 2013

Hundreds of local, national and international environmental groups across North America, as well as scientists, politicians, ranchers and landowners, Native Americans and First Nations have come together to oppose the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Over one million comments opposing Keystone XL were submitted to the U.S. State Department in April 2013, added to the more than 800,000 signatures against the pipeline in 48 hours in 2012.

Why? Because building it creates enormous risks for people and communities in the United States without creating any identifiable rewards.

Even the New York Times editorial board has said, repeatedly, that, “A president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve [the Keystone XL pipeline], a project that — even by the State Department’s most cautious calculations — can only add to the problem.”

Although the oil industry vehemently defends Keystone XL’s purported economic benefits, the numbers just don’t add up. Instead of enhancing energy security in the U.S. and reducing American reliance on Middle Eastern oil, it would simply facilitate oil exports to unsavory regimes like China. Rather than providing meaningful, long-term employment opportunities for the people who live and work along the route, it will create only 35 permanent jobs. 

And the risks are enormous. Catastrophic spills of tar sands crude in Mayflower, Arkansas and Michigan's Kalamazoo River illustrate just how risky tar sands pipelines are. The inevitable spills from tar sands pipelines poison waterways, disrupt communities, make residents sick, and decrease property values. The unique chemical makeup of tar sands oil causes it to sink in water, making it particularly difficult to clean-up. The spill that occurred in the Kalamazoo River three years ago still hasn’t been cleaned up, and the total cost of redressing the devastation will top $1 billion.

Given that Keystone XL runs right over the Ogalala aquifer, one of the most important sources of water in the Midwest, the risks of contamination are enormous. Just one spill from the Keystone XL pipeline could destroy a water source on which hundreds of communities and thousands of ranchers and farmers rely.

Rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline is a no brainer. It creates enormous social, economic and environmental risks and provides almost no benefits. It must never be built.

Keystone XL Updates & Resources

The Week in Keystone XL: A Bad Week for Tar Sands


Editors | Tar Sands Solutions Network - July 27th 2014

Blog Post: Here’s a little recap of last week’s news related to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Suffice it to say that last week’s developments made the tar sands expansion that Keystone advocates have treated as a foregone conclusion seem more uncertain than ever.

In the heart of the oil sands, a new fight over pipelines

Shawn McCarthy | Globe and Mail - July 23rd 2014

Press Clipping: Canada’s oil sands producers are facing a pipeline brouhaha in their own backyard that could threaten expansion plans by strangling their access to markets. TransCanada and Phoenix Energy are proposing to build the $3-billion Grand Rapids pipeline to transport 900,000 barrels a day of blended bitumen from Fort McMurray to the Edmonton area. But the project is under fire from landowners, environmentalists and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), who complain it is being fast-tracked without proper environmental assessment.

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation pulls out of Grand Rapids Hearings

July 20th 2014

Visual: Today the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) announced they will no longer participate in the TransCanada Grand Rapids Pipeline hearing citing impossible timelines and prejudice within the process. The First Nation is referring to the project as the “Mother of All Pipelines,” feeding projects like the Energy East Pipeline and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline projects.

Caretakers & Warriors


June 19th 2014

Visual: The Keystone XL pipeline is not a conservative issue or a liberal issue, it is a human issue. Despite being bullied by TransCanada, farmers and ranchers in Nebraska continue to fight for their lives and livelihoods. North of the border, Canada's First Nations see the danger of tar sands development firsthand. At the end of the day, these people know that this is about more than just one pipeline. Stand with them!

High costs of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline outweigh paltry benefits

Anthony Swift | NRDC - June 16th 2014

Blog Post: The case for the Keystone XL pipeline has never been weaker. In recent weeks, a myriad of industry reports have shown that tar sands expansion is slowing due to a lack of pipelines, deflating the argument that tar sands expansion is inevitable. Meanwhile, federal regulators found systematic bad welds and other defects in the construction of TransCanada’s Gulf Coast pipeline, highlighting the real risks of spills on the proposed tar sands pipeline. Finally, Keystone XL is an export pipeline through the United States rather than to it.

Obama faces Keystone questions on trip to Indian Country

Christi Parsons | LA Times - June 16th 2014

Press Clipping: On his first presidential visit to Indian country, President Obama heard from activists who want him to reject the Keystone pipeline project that could pass nearby. Bryan Brewer, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, called the proposed oil pipeline a “death warrant for our people” and urged Obama to turn down the TransCanada Corp. plan to run the pipeline from Canada, through Dakota lands and down to the Gulf Coast.