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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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Overview:
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

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."

Talk of a deal on Keystone XL is foolhardy and presumptuous

Danielle Droitsch and Liz Barratt-Brown | NRDC - March 4th 2015

Blog Post: Whenever the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is dealt a blow, the talk of a deal in exchange for its approval picks up a notch. Suddenly pundits and others feel free to suggest trading away a pipeline that thousands of students, Native Americans, ranchers and farmers, nurses and Nobel Laureates, and environmental groups are fighting to oppose. And they do so without thinking what it would mean to people living along its route, where a spill into their aquifer would ruin livelihoods. But talk of a deal makes no sense, as a deal involving approval of Keystone XL would defeat the very purpose of what these millions of people are trying to stop.

Keystone and the riddle of the tar sands

Feature

Mark Dowie | Newsweek - March 4th 2015

Press Clipping: Before Canada selected tar sands crude to be its staple export, the country was poised to become a major global contributor to clean energy. Then Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a powerful neoliberal free-market zealot, decided to double down on high-carbon fuels and announce to the world that tar sands would become the next nation-building staple for his country. It appears he was wrong about that, which would not be a bad outcome for the planet.

This is the real significance of Obama’s Keystone XL veto

Feature

Chris Mooney | Washington Post - March 2nd 2015

Press Clipping: The seemingly unending Keystone XL saga hit the spotlight again Tuesday — when President Obama vetoed legislation that would have approved the pipeline. The significance of this move is worth considering. For what it means, above all, is that a relatively novel environmentalist strategy — aimed at deliberately blocking certain kinds of fossil fuel production and extraction — has now forced the hand of no less than the president himself. “Most actions that have been taken on climate change have been about smokestacks and tail pipes,” says Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. Keystone, he said, “has been the first major public fight to argue that we have to begin to curtail production.”

Crude Awakening: How the Keystone veto dashes Canada’s ‘superpower’ dreams

Feature

Tim Dickinson | Rolling Stone Magazine - February 25th 2015

Press Clipping: Barack Obama's veto of Keystone XL has placed the export pipeline for Canadian tar-sands crude on its deathbed. As we, in the United States, consider the fate of our own massive oil reserves and confront the specter of yet another Bush presidency, Stephen Harper's Canada offers a cautionary tale — about the economic and political havoc that can be unleashed when a first-world nation yokes itself to Tea Party economics and to the boom and bust of Big Oil.

Obama: Keystone pipeline bill ‘has earned my veto’

Feature

Gregory Korte | USA Today - February 24th 2015

Press Clipping: President Obama vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have approved the Keystone XL pipeline, making good on a threat to reject a proposal embraced by Republicans as a jobs measure but opposed by environmentalists as contributing to climate change. Environmentalists claimed victory. "The pen was mightier than the pipeline," said Anna Aurilio of Environment America.

Vetoing Keystone is just the beginning

Rhea Suh, President | NRDC - February 23rd 2015

Press Clipping: Our Constitution authorizes the president of the United States to reject legislation that’s not in the national interest. The reason: the president is the only public official elected to represent all of the American people. Under a policy put in place in 1968 and updated by President George W. Bush, it is the president’s job to review cross-border infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, which would link Gulf Coast refineries to Canadian tar sands. In determining whether to green-light the project, the president is guided by a single question: is it in the national interest? The answer is an emphatic no.

Stanford stands up to KXL

Jenai Longstaff | Fossil Free Stanford - February 20th 2015

Blog Post: When President Obama came to Stanford University on February 13th, more than 50 students and community members were there to tell him to veto and reject the Keystone XL pipeline. Fossil Free Stanford has led Stanford’s campaign to divest from the fossil fuel industry. With the University’s assets successfully out of the coal industry, Fossil Free Stanford continues its work to end the University’s investment in oil and natural gas companies, which are causing enormous environmental destruction and human rights abuses.