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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, exacerbating the risks associated with climate change  
Current Status:
- President Obama's decision delayed while Nebraska courts decide the fate of the pipeline's proposed route

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

DOE Study Finds Elevated Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Canadian Crude

Chester Dawson | The Wall Street Journal - June 24th 2015

Blog Post: A group of researchers surveyed 27 oil-sands projects in Alberta to assess their greenhouse gas production. The peer-reviewed study was conducted jointly by the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, researchers at Stanford University and the Institute of Transport Studies at the University of California, Davis. Their findings do note bode well for Canada's oil producers, and have added major ammunition to industry critics and opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Alberta election results cast further doubt on Keystone XL

Editors | Tar Sands Solutions - May 6th 2015

Blog Post: Last night, the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was dealt a major blow as voters in Alberta, home to Canada’s massive reserves of dirty, carbon-heavy tar sands, ousted leaders from the Progressive Conservative party in favor of the more left-leaning New Democratic Party. Supporters of Keystone XL have long downplayed the environmental impact of the pipeline by arguing that development of the tar sands is inevitable, but last night’s election results are a major blow to the pipeline’s prospects.

TransCanada Keystone 1 pipeline suffered major corrosion after only two years in operation


Julie Dermansky | DeSmog Blog - April 30th 2015

Press Clipping: Documents obtained by DeSmogBlog reveal an alarming rate of corrosion to parts of TransCanada's Keystone 1 pipeline. A mandatory inspection test revealed a section of the pipeline's wall had corroded 95%, leaving it paper-thin in one area (one-third the thickness of a dime) and dangerously thin in three other places. “It is highly unusual for a pipeline not yet two years old to experience such deep corrosion issues,” Evan Vokes, a former TransCanada pipeline engineer-turned-whistleblower, told DeSmogBlog. “Something very severe happened that the public needs to know about.”

‘Pipelines blow up and people die’


Elana Schor and Andrew Restuccia | Politico - April 27th 2015

Press Clipping: Oil and gas companies like to assure the public that pipelines are a safer way to ship their products than railroads or trucks. But government data makes clear there is hardly reason to celebrate. Last year, more than 700 pipeline failures killed 19 people, injured 97 and caused more than $300 million in damage. Two of the past five years have been the worst for combined pipeline-related deaths and injuries since 2000.

Is Northern Gateway dead?


Kai Nagata | Dogwood Initiative - April 13th 2015

Press Clipping: On April 12, 2014, B.C. citizens directly in the path of the Northern Gateway pipeline had been asked to vote on it, and Kitimat voted No. the key to the plebiscite's victory was a simple tactical fact: energy companies have not, so far, figured out how to move votes. They can easily outspend opponents in the "air war," but they don't have the lists, the organizing tools or the volunteer strength to get large numbers of people to the polls.

Federal data: Not many oil trains for Keystone XL to replace

Editors | Tar Sands Solutions - April 6th 2015

Blog Post: New data on crude oil shipments released last week by the Department of Energy shows that there are very few oil trains taking the path of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, undermining industry talking points that building Keystone XL would keep dangerous trains off the tracks. The data, released in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s first monthly report on crude by rail, confirms that the bulk of oil trains are traveling from the Bakken region in North Dakota to refineries in the mid-Atlantic and the Pacific Northwest, and that only about five percent of the oil moving by rail is coming to the Gulf Coast from Canada or the Midwest.

ICYMI: Department of Energy data shows Keystone XL is an export pipeline

Editors | Tar Sands Solutions - March 15th 2015

Blog Post: New data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) proves that, as President Obama has emphasized in recent comments, the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would serve primarily as an export pipeline, bringing dirty Canadian tar sands crude to the international market. Keystone supporters have long argued that the tar sands the pipeline would transport would stay in the United States, and the president has taken criticism for his recent comments arguing that the tar sands pipeline would essentially “bypass” the U.S.

Senate Keystone XL backers fail to override presidential veto

Editors | Tar Sands Solutions - March 4th 2015

Blog Post: Today, backers of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline failed to garner enough votes in the Senate to override President Obama’s veto of controversial legislation that would have forced approval of the pipeline. With this failure, it is clear that the time has come for Congress to give up their relentless push to support a foreign oil company at the expense of our land, water, and climate. “At some point Republicans have to know when to fold ‘em and walk away,” said Bold Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb. "Gambling with our water and property rights by trying to shove Keystone down our throats shows how the Republicans value Big Oil interests over anything else."