Say "No" to H.R. 1938 and "Yes" to pipeline safety

The House is voting tomorrow on a bill (H.R. 1938) that would rush through a decision on TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline before the necessary environmental review and national interest determination process is completed. This despite the dangerous track record of TransCanada and of tar sands pipelines in the United States. The Obama Administration has pledged to do a thorough review of this pipeline. Just today, the President’s Office of Management and Budget released a statement opposing the bill. Nothing will be gained by rushing another tar sands pipeline, but much can be lost in terms of the health and welfare of communities that depend on the rivers and aquifers along the pipeline’s path. We are asking members of Congress to vote “No” on H.R. 1938 and “Yes” on pipeline safety. And members of the public can ask their members of Congress as well by taking action here.

From last year’s Kalamazoo River spill we have learned some hard lessons about just how much more dangerous diluted bitumen is in a pipe and how much more difficult it is to clean from our waters. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of this tragic spill of 1 million gallons of tar sands oil. Not only is the spill not yet cleaned up – EPA has recently discovered that the extent of contamination is much more extensive than they had realized. Local residents have learned the hard way that tar sands oil is very different beast to clean up than conventional oil. And TransCanada is building a track record that no other pipeline company should envy: over 30 spills in the U.S. and Canada from the first Keystone pipeline in its first year and multiple other pipeline explosions and spills over the last year. Just a few days ago, TransCanada’s natural gas pipeline in Wyoming exploded – and this from a company that is supposedly an expert at transporting natural gas.

“Obama’s pipeline” is not a catchy name for a pipeline that pollutes the Ogallala Aquifer – the main source of freshwater for 8 states in America’s heartland. As the pipeline process moves forward, the Administration would do well to ensure as thorough analysis as they have promised. Big Oil is asking for minimal scrutiny of a potentially dangerous pipeline. The Administration has clearly said that H.R. 1938 is not good law. The President should now go further and ensure that the many still unresolved issues around this pipeline are thoroughly reviewed based on sound science and independent analysis. And members of Congress should vote “No” to H.R. 1938 so that the proper process for the pipeline can move forward unimpeded.

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