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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

As Senate votes to interfere with the Administration’s review, EPA set to comment on KXL pipeline

Liz Barratt-Brown | NRDC - January 29th 2015

Blog Post: The Senate is expected to vote today to by-pass the Obama Administration's ongoing review of whether the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is in the national interest. No doubt Senator John Hoeven (ND) will again be waiving around the flawed and outdated findings of State Department environmental review. In just a few days, federal agencies will comment on that very environmental review and whether its conclusion that the Canadian tar sands was likely to be developed with or without Keystone XL is still accurate. It's not.

Lakota spiritual leader to lead interfaith service protesting Keystone XL

Editors | Tar Sands Solutions - January 28th 2015

Blog Post: Today, Reverend Lennox Yearwood of the Hip-Hop Caucus will join Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse and other faith leaders for an interfaith service in front of the White House to protest the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The faith leaders will urge President Obama to reject the permit for the pipeline immediately, citing concern over its impact on the climate and natural environment.

Is Keystone backfiring on GOP leaders?

Jeremy Symons | Environmental Defense Fund - January 23rd 2015

Press Clipping: When Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took over the reins of the Senate, he wasted little time in choosing the Keystone oil pipeline as the first item for the new Congress. He may be having buyer's remorse. McConnell's problem is that 70% of the public - including 56% of Republicans and 54% of conservatives - support actions to deal with climate change. That means more clean energy and less carbon pollution from sources such as highly polluting tar sands oil, which would flow through the Keystone pipeline.

Senate rejects human role in climate change

Clare Davenport | New York Times - January 23rd 2015

Press Clipping: The Senate on Thursday again voted to reject two measures related to the Keystone XL pipeline that declared that humans are a cause of climate change — the second set of votes on the issue in two days. Senators are using the Keystone debate to argue over climate issues. The Democrats want to force their Republican colleagues to come out one way or another on whether they believe humans have a role in changes to the climate and the rise of global temperatures. Republicans telegraphed their intent to attack President Obama’s climate policy agenda.

Defenders of tradition in Keystone pipeline fight

Mitch Smith | New York Times - January 23rd 2015

Press Clipping: An unpainted wooden barn sits in a snow-dusted cornfield along a gravel road, one of many that dot the rural horizon here. This barn, however, contains no horses, tractors or farming tools. Its roof is covered with solar panels, there is a windmill out front, and the interior is plastered with signs with slogans like “Build Our Energy” and “#NOKXL,” in protest of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which could run under the property if President Obama approves the project.

Ruptured Yellowstone oil pipeline was built with faulty welding in 1950s


Elizabeth Douglass | InsideClimate News - January 23rd 2015

Press Clipping: The aging Poplar Pipeline leaked as much as 40,000 gallons of crude into the Yellowstone River and fouled the drinking water for 6,000 residents of nearby Glendive, MT. The spill came just days before this week's Senate hearings to bolster support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Opponents have pointed to the Poplar oil release as a fresh example of the hazards of crude oil pipelines that cross waterways. The Keystone XL crosses more than 1,900 rivers, streams, and reservoirs—including the Yellowstone River, said Scott Bosse, Northern Rockies director for American Rivers, a national advocacy group.

Let’s remember Ground Zero in the Keystone XL pipeline debate

Liz Barratt-Brown | NRDC - January 22nd 2015

Blog Post: So much attention is being paid to the pipeline itself that it would almost be easy to forget that the pipeline is attached to the most egregious form of oil extraction on the planet. Tar sands extraction is occurring in a beautiful blue-green Boreal forest, filled with moose and caribou and nests full of our back yard birds. It is happening upstream from native communities that have lived in harmony with nature for thousands of years and now can't eat the fish or drink the water.

Harper’s delusional hubris to blame for Obama’s Keystone XL veto


Sandy Garossino | Desmog Canada - January 22nd 2015

Press Clipping: If revenge is indeed a dish that's best served cold, the President of Cool just served up a four-star pièce de résistance for Stephen Harper. Tuesday's announcement of Obama's planned veto of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline should not have been surprising, yet when the blow came it carried a shocking intensity. And how did things go so badly that Canada doesn't have the heft or goodwill in Washington to add a single pipeline to a nation benoodled with them? The answer lies in the delusional hubris of Stephen Harper.