Outpouring of calls to reject Keystone XL tar sands pipeline as State Department holds final public meeting

The State Department is holding the last in a series of public meetings on TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline on October 7 in Washington. This D.C. hearing concludes a series of meetings in states all along the pipeline right-of-way. Remarkable about these hearings is how clearly they show that people from all walks of life see the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline as a dirty and dangerous step backwards when we should be moving forwards with strong clean energy solutions. The Obama Administration is being sent a clear message that they should reject this tar sands pipeline. President Obama and Secretary Clinton should not want their legacy to include expansion of one of the dirtiest fuels on earth.

The DC hearing this Friday, and the accompanying noon rally, will see the same span of people speaking out against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and raising their very valid concerns. The kickoff will be a screening of a new film by award-winning director Leslie Iwerks called Pipe Dreams about the real costs of the proposed Keystone XL project. Speakers at the hearing will include a pipeline safety inspector who found problems with safety on the earlier TransCanada pipeline construction, a General who sees tar sands as a problem for security, a Mayor who brings concerns of communities for how this pipeline will undermine their efforts to reduce oil dependence, and First Nations and Tribal representatives whose culture, health and land is being harmed.

Just recently we have seen an outpouring of calls to reject the pipeline and seen new information that calls the safety and need of the pipeline and the integrity of the State Department-run process into serious question.

  • VoteVets just released a document calling on the Administration to reject the pipeline. They say: “In its public push to gain US approval for its Keystone XL pipeline, energy giant Transcanada has attempted to warp the facts to make it seem that they have the US’ national security at heart.  We cannot be clear enough – Transcanada and its allies are playing to national security fears of the American people to make a buck.  Those who truly care about America’s national security and its military will stand up against these arguments, and not allow a foreign corporation and its foreign allies to prey on Americans in this manner.”
  • The scrutiny of the State Department’s cosy relationship with the foreign pipeline company TransCanada has increased with new releases of emails that show how they worked together to develop strategies to build public confidence in the pipeline. And the interest of Big Oil players, the Koch Brothers, in the pipeline found additional grounding in their company’s own statements before Canada’s National Energy Board.
  •  A pipeline safety inspector on TransCanada’s first Keystone pipeline, which has already leaked 14 times in its first year of operation in the United States, has raised many safety-related construction problems he saw while working on that pipeline. The documents that Friends of the Earth forced the State Department to release under the Freedom of Information Act also show coordination between the State Department and the pipeline company to make it seem the pipeline would be safer than it would in fact be.
  • New information shows that oil companies bringing the tar sands through this pipeline to the Gulf want to use it for export and that it will not mean security of supply for America or replacement of oil from the Middle East.
  • The Cornell Global Labor Institute has issued two recent reports showing that TransCanada is unconscionably preying on people’s need for jobs to make wildly inflated jobs claims, when in fact this new tar sands pipeline might actually cost us jobs due to higher gas prices in the Midwest and the likelihood of oil spills in the waters on which America’s farmers depend.
  • The news from the hearings this week was also moving. Farmers, landowners, and many others voiced their concerns in the hundreds, especially noting abuse of landowners by TransCanada as this foreign company has pressured them to give up their land for the pipeline path. In Nebraska especially, moving pleas were made to protect the Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer. In fact the Governor of Nebraska, both Senators and many others are saying that the Nebraska Sandhills are no place for an oil spill.
  • And across the ocean, the European Union withstood what has been months of lobbying by pro-tar sands interests and put a strong clean fuels standard in place – something that is needed across the United States to encourage clean, low-carbon transportation solutions and discourage climate change bombs such as tar sands oil.
  • On the lighter side in other international news, but showing how much the world is watching what decision America makes on this pipeline, the United States won the “fossil award” for its stance until now on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline at the international climate conference in Panama this week. Certainly the State Department’s determination that this pipeline would have “no significant environmental impact” was misguided and misleading.

The swell of voices against this tar sands project say reject this pipeline. President Obama and Secretary Clinton should not want oil spills in the Ogallala Aquifer and increased dependence on oil to be their legacy. In recent months, we have seen religious leaders, grandparents, farmers, ranchers and many others risk arrest because the issue of how we move forward with our energy future and how we protect our climate is one of the most important decisions that we will deal with in our generation. And hundreds will be gathering again at the White House on November 6 to repeat the message: It is time to protect the climate. We have better solutions than expanding tar sands.

It is time for President Obama and Secretary Clinton to be on the right side of this debate and to show with their action in rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that in addition to putting strong greenhouse gas regulations and incentives for clean energy in place, we need to say no to expansion of dirty fuels.

Go to www.stoptar.org to take action.