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, 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

State Department approves illegal scheme for doubling tar sands flowing through the Great Lakes

Jim Murphy | NWF - August 25th 2014

Blog Post: On August 18, 2014, the State Department posted documents that show Enbridge has hatched a scheme to almost double the flow of tar sands into the Great Lakes region along its Alberta Clipper pipeline ( also known as Line 67), in contradiction to its existing permit. In a privately sent letter from a mid-level State Department official, the State Department acquiesced to Enbridge’s new plan.

State department enables illegal Enbridge scheme to expand tar sands


August 22nd 2014

Press Clipping: The State Department just released documents revealing a scheme by Canadian tar sands giant Enbridge to bypass the Presidential Permit process for expansion of its Alberta Clipper tar sands pipeline. “With no public notice, the State Department has shockingly backtracked on its commitment to require environmental review and approval before more dirty tar sands oil enters the United States through Minnesota,” said Marc Fink, a Minnesota-based attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Neil Young and Willie Nelson perform in Nebraska to protect it from Keystone XL


Mark Hefflinger | Bold Nebraska - August 19th 2014

Blog Post: Neil Young and Willie Nelson will perform an afternoon benefit concert for Bold Nebraska, the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Cowboy Indian Alliance on Saturday, Sept. 27, on a farm near Neligh, NE on the route of the Keystone XL pipeline that also crosses the Ponca Trail of Tears. Tickets for "Harvest the Hope: A Concert to Protect the Heartland" will go on sale Wednesday morning for $50. Sign up to get an email notice the moment tickets go on sale.

Plan to visit the Big Apple for the biggest climate rally in history


August 13th 2014

Blog Post: In September heads of state are going to New York City for a historic summit on climate change. With our future on the line, we will take a weekend and use it to bend the course of history. Just before the summit in New York City there will be an unprecedented climate event -- in size, beauty, and impact -- the People’s Climate March. The march will not be just about New York or the United States, however. Heads of state from around the world will be there, as will the attention of global media. This is a time for global mobilisation!

Why the debate over Keystone and emissions comes down to rail

Andrew Leach | Maclean's - August 13th 2014

Press Clipping: Canadian energy economist Andrew Leach, in Maclean’s, argues that the Keystone XL debate really is a debate about Economics 101, but it’s not about world oil supply and demand so much as it is about the supply and demand for oil transportation services out of western Canada and specifically about the possibility of alternative pipelines and the scalability of rail.

Keystone XL will spike oil demand and CO2, study says

Bobby Magill | Climate Central - August 10th 2014

Press Clipping: A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change says the State Department may have underestimated Keystone XL’s CO2 emissions by as much as four times. That’s because the consumer demand for oil will rise as new crude oil coming on the market from of Keystone XL will drive global prices down. That means for every barrel of increased crude oil production in the Canadian tar sands, global oil consumption could increase 0.6 barrels because the additional oil on the market would decrease global oil prices.

At this year’s big climate rally, most of the people won’t be pale, male, and stale

Ben Adler | Grist - July 31st 2014

Press Clipping: More than 500 organizations are planning a historic event for Sept. 21 in New York City, what they say will be the largest rally for climate action ever. However many people show up, this march will likely be historic for another reason: its diversity and its focus on climate justice. More than 20 labor unions are among the organizations leading in the planning and turnout efforts.

Groups ask State Department to revise its market analysis of Keystone XL


Editors | Tar Sands Solutions Network - July 31st 2014

Blog Post: Today, 12 environmental, landowner and consumer organizations asked the State Department to consider recent developments that highlight Keystone XL’s critical role in enabling tar sands expansion in its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. “Several developments in recent months have clearly demonstrated that constructing the Keystone XL pipeline would expand the tar sands industry and significantly contribute to climate change,” said Luísa Abbott Galvão, climate and energy associate at Friends of the Earth.