Administration consideration of alternative routes may be on the table

A Reuters story just hit their wires quoting unnamed State Department officials saying that they are considering an analysis of alternative pipeline routes for the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  Consideration of alternative routes has always been one of the key issues that the State Department needed to consider.  We must protect water and croplands in Nebraska, and everywhere else across the Great Plains. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would put those resources at needless risk.  However, any further environmental review must also include an on-the-ground, fresh look at pipeline safety, climate change, and environmental justice.  With this information in hand, there will be only one right decision on the pipeline: rejection.

It is shocking that the State Department failed to take a serious look at alternatives to the pipeline path.  This is a very basic example of the suspect manner in which this permit process has been moving forward from the start. The special session of the Nebraska legislature just called bringing state lawmakers together to discuss this very issue shows the gravity of the issue and what is at stake for the people living along the pipeline pathway.  This is especially true in the sensitive Sandhills region above the Ogallala Aquifer---one of the most important and stressed water resources on the continent.

And the historic White House protests over the weekend where more than 10,000 Americans came out to express their concern over, among an array of troubling issues, the climate dangers that would be wrought by this project shows that the Huskers are not alone.

Perhaps the administration has realized it has dropped the ball on this decision and wants to hit the reset button. The President and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are obligated to get this process right. They must start over with an open and scientific process, free of the conflicts of interest that have plagued their analysis from the start. If they do a thorough and genuine analysis, we remain confident that Keystone XL will never be built. It is simply not in our nation’s best interest to trade our climate, land and water for the needs of Big Oil and a few of their cronies.

Certainly backers of the project will say that the proposed route is the only economically viable route. But these are the same folks who continue to cynically oversell this project as a jobs producer. The Washington Post and Cornell Global Labor Institute have proved pretty convincingly that it is not. So the administration has the chance here to go back and do the analysis that was missed. If they do it right, they won’t stop at a re-route, they will see that the only way to protect water and croplands in Nebraska and address the climate emissions from this project, it will reject the pipeline.  The Keystone XL would put those resources at needless risk, one more reason the president should say no to this pipeline. These are, as of yet, unconfirmed statements but there is no doubt that it will leave TransCanada, API and oil companies nervous.  The green movement is certain to get even more galvanized in the fight against this boondoggle project and the unnecessary expansion of dirty energy. The Keystone XL tar sands project is not in the national interest and should be rejected.

UPDATE: TransCanada's first Keystone Pipeline has been shut down again today due to "mechanical issues," underscoring the company's spotty record with its first oil pipeline which has leaked 14 times in the United States in less than two years and making crystal clear how dangerous the Keystone XL pipeline could be.