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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

TransCanada’s self-inflicted, possibly fatal Keystone XL blunder


Brendan DeMelle | Desmog Blog - August 2nd 2015

Blog Post: What might have been a sleepy mid-summer South Dakota pipeline permitting process turned into a major headache for TransCanada and supporters of the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline this week when new evidence emerged about the pipeline builder’s depth of knowledge of the serious corrosion with its existing Keystone pipeline system, and the lack of market demand for Keystone XL.

Mid-week update: Keystone XL permit hearing – off the rails

July 30th 2015

Blog Post: We have just concluded the third day of testimony on the Keystone XL permit certification here in Pierre, South Dakota. It’s been a bit of a ride, to say the least – rules seem to change by the hour, TransCanada pulled a witness soon after intervening parties started asking him questions, and at times the room has been quite heated (and not due to being on the fourth floor of the Capitol building in July – it’s been testy in here).

Canada’s Harper isn’t ‘hopeful’ Obama will approve Keystone

Theophilos Argitis and Greg Quinn | Bloomberg Business - July 30th 2015

Press Clipping: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said U.S. delays in approving the Keystone XL pipeline are “not a hopeful sign” and reflect the “peculiar politics” of the Obama administration. “A positive decision has not been rendered for a very long time, that’s obviously not a hopeful sign,” Harper said in an interview Wednesday at his Ottawa office, adding he discussed the matter recently with the U.S. president. “I think there’s very peculiar politics of this particular administration.”

Keystone XL backer Hoeven says Obama will reject pipeline


Jim Snyder and Rebecca Penty | Bloomberg Business - July 28th 2015

Press Clipping: A leading congressional supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline predicted President Barack Obama will reject the $8 billion project when Congress is out of town in August. Senator John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican, cited “sources” Tuesday as he discussed the pipeline in a Senate floor speech without identifying where he got his information. “What I’m hearing from multiple sources is that he is going to turn down Keystone when we’re out in August."

400 riders, marchers, and pipeline fighters: #SDPUCnoKXL!

Sabrina | No KXL Dakota - July 28th 2015

Blog Post: On Sunday, July 26, 20 riders on horseback led nearly 400 people in a march across the Missouri River to protest the Keystone XL pipeline! Hearings on the state’s pipeline permit started today at the Capitol building, where numerous organizations, tribes, and native and non-native individuals have intervened to oppose the permit certification.

Desperate TransCanada’s climate arguments fail the laugh test in letter to Kerry

Editors | Tar Sands Solutions - July 2nd 2015

Blog Post: Recognizing that the project’s prospects are looking grim, Canadian oil giant TransCanada sent a letter yesterday to Secretary of State John Kerry and other administration officials urging them to approve the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Quoting the climate test the president laid out for the pipeline in 2013, the letter lays out a series of arguments so unconvincing they fail to pass the laugh test.

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.