State of the Union: Nebraska landowner response accuses Republicans of playing political football with the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

Randy Thompson flickr.jpg

In giving the official Republican response to tonight’s State of the Union address, Indiana Governor Daniels pushed a tar sands pipeline that would put our health and safety at risk to benefit the oil industry. Echoing the wildly exaggerated jobs numbers, Governor Daniels missed the point that TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not a national jobs plan, but a project whose few hundred permanent jobs need to be weighed against the risks from oil spills and climate change.  President Obama was right to reject Keystone XL as not in the national interest just last week.

Keystone XL would bring tar sands oil from where it is strip-mined and drilled from under Canada’s Boreal forest to the Gulf Coast where much of it would be turned into diesel and exported. Keystone XL would put American farmlands at risk from oil spills so that the oil industry can get a better price for its product in the international market. And with a tar sands pipeline it is not a question of if but when a spill will happen. TransCanada’s first Keystone tar sands pipeline has already leaked 14 times in its first year of operation and it was also supposed to have state of the art safety standards in place.

Responding to Governor Daniels, Nebraska landowner Randy Thompson said:

"As a registered Republican for over forty years I am appalled at the course of action that my party has chosen to take in regards to the Keystone XL pipeline. The politicians may find the Keystone XL to be some kind of a political game, a political football of sorts, to be casually punted about, but for those of us who live and work along its proposed pathway, it is anything but a game. It is instead viewed as a threat to our way of life that has in many instances taken several generations of work to achieve."

Randy is right when he calls the boosting of a dirty energy project like the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline a cynical game. Despite what Governor Daniels says, nothing about the Keystone XL pipeline is good for us. Tar sands is expensive oil  and as a new analysis from Texas shows, even more expensive when sent almost 2,000 miles by pipeline to refineries on the other side of the country.

Tar sands extraction with its high use of energy and our continued dependence on oil also are making climate change worse. This is serious business in a year when we have seen the high cost of droughts, floods, fires and violent storms linked to climate change.

Despite all this, GOP Congressional leadership met with TransCanada to discuss a plan for trying to revive the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. And Congressional Republicans are proposing a bill that mandates approval and exempts the pipeline from many of our health and safety protections, even while pretending to give authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. You can read more about that bill here. And as the President said, we need to keep the next payroll tax credit bill clean – and that means clean of tar sands and any other environmentally harmful riders.

We need to move on from the Keystone XL pipeline and tar sands expansion. The President said, “We have subsidized oil companies for a century.  That’s long enough.  It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising.”  The oil industry is stifling homegrown U.S. energy, not those who would protect our farmlands, waters and climate, as Governor Daniels implied. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is one more way in which the oil industry is pushing to increase its profits with the American people carrying the risks. We can do better with energy that doesn’t put our farms, water and climate at risk.