Los Angeles Times editorial gets it right on the risks of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

This morning the LA Times published an editorial saying that the environmental risks of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline should be thoroughly studied and mitigation measures put in place. The LA Times is correct: there is no rush to make a decision on this pipeline that would carry toxic tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf coast crossing over 1000 US rivers and streams and going through the fragile Nebraska Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer. In fact, not only do we not need this tar sands pipeline, we need to be moving away from our dependence on oil towards cleaner energy choices.

This follows several editorials in the wake of the tragic spill of 42,000 gallons of oil from an ExxonMobil pipeline into the wild Yellowstone River in Montana. The Montana Great Falls Tribune editorial noted that the Yellowstone oil spill proves that pipeline safety rules need to be tougher. The Nebraska Journal Star editorial noted that the Yellowstone oil spill showed regrettable proof of oil pipeline risk. And an earlier LA Times editorial found that with a spill such as that into the Yellowstone, it is not enough to simply clean up the river.

The Obama Administration should get the right information on pipeline safety, alternative routes, environmental justice, greenhouse gas emissions and many other aspects of the pipeline before it makes a decision. So far, the State Department has not done a thorough enough environmental review, despite requests from the Environmental Protection Agency, landowners, farmers, mayors, the environmental community and many more.

Moreover, the United States does not need this pipeline – it is not in our national interest, but represents a path toward deepening dependence on oil as we should be moving towards cleaner energy solutions. As the LA Times rightly concludes, this is a global issue. With drought ravaging the U.S. South and new analysis showing the high cost of climate change, we must do better than a continued reliance on high-carbon fuels such as tar sands from Canada.

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