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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

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."

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


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


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


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.