The Skywriter

Stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline (UPDATED)


Stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline (UPDATED)


By 1Sky intern Emma Fernandez. See update below -- Luis

Earlier this week, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman warned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a letter that approving the Keystone XL pipeline would be “a step in the wrong direction” and criticized the State Department’s limited environmental impact statement about the pipeline.

The proposed pipeline would transport 900,000 barrels of oil a day nearly 2,000 miles from Alberta, Canada to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. The project is currently undergoing the State Department’s review process since all transnational pipelines must be approved by the State Department as coinciding with “national interests.” The pipeline seemed like a done deal, but recently environmental groups, citizens across the country, and 50 members of Congress have been speaking up about the horrible environmental impacts of the pipeline.

Keystone XL would transport oil from oil sands, also called tar sands, the dirtiest fuel that we use. The extraction of oil from tar sands is inherently more energy intensive, using three times more energy to produce than pumping oil from wells. Increasing our use of tar sands oil from this pipeline would increase our greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to adding 18 million cars to the roads. Extracting the oil from Canadian tar sands is also an extremely water-intensive process and destroys large areas of forests.

In addition to highlighting these concerns in his letter, Waxman also criticized the environmental impact statement released by the State Department about the Keystone XL project. As part of their review process, the State Department is required to release this statement weighing the environmental consequences of the project, but Waxman writes that the Department’s statement “makes little sense” since it never discusses the pipeline’s significant impact on global warming, “the most significant environmental problem associated with the project”.

It is unthinkable that at this crucial moment in history we could approve a multi-billion dollar project that increases our dependence on fossil fuels, let alone an investment in one of the dirtiest fuels out there. As Waxman and other public figures are standing up to fight for a clean energy future, we hope that Secretary Clinton hears their voices and refuses to approve a project that would drastically increase our greenhouse gas emissions. Let the Secretary of State know how you feel- write the State Department and tell Secretary Clinton not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

UPDATE: Since this blog was published, the State Department has decided to delay a decision about the pipeline until the end of the year at the earliest, pending a full environmental impact study and further consultation with other governments.

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