Transportation bill moves ahead - without weight of dirty Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project

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The news from the Congress is that the transportation bill is no longer being held hostage to approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project.

It was ironic that lawmakers would try to justify holding a bill that would create jobs across our country hostage to a single project that would put our farms and waters at risk in order to allow the oil industry to export tar sands overseas. And good for Congress for not letting that happen.

The transportation bill unfortunately, does still contain language expediting environmental reviews of transportation projects – not a wise move when environmental reviews are so critical to making sure projects are done right.

But stopping Congressional approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a decision that is good for our economy and our environment.

Back in February the U.S. Senate passed a bi-partisan transportation bill -- "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century" (MAP-21) -- that would allocate $109 billion over two years for the nation's transportation infrastructure needs. However, the House of Representatives has tried to add unrelated provisions into the mix – such as approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline – gumming up the works on this much-needed bill as described here by my colleague Rob Perks.

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, unlike the transportation bill, is not a jobs plan for America. It is a single project and when its few thousand construction jobs are completed, it has nothing more for us except perhaps the tragedy of jobs in cleaning up tar sands oil spills. The Keystone XL pipeline would bring tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast for export. It would raise U.S. oil prices, put our waters and farms in jeopardy of hard to clean up tar sands oil spills, and would increase our dependence on oil – worsening climate change and undermining efforts to move to clean energy. A dirty energy project like Keystone XL has no place in the transportation bill and it has no place in a U.S. clean energy economy.

The pipeline company, TransCanada, has already started the reapplication process for this project. It is critical that the pipeline application process run it proper course with a thorough environmental review and a process to determine whether this project is even in America’s national interest. Such a review and national interest determination process will show that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would actually undermine the good that would come from strengthening clean transportation policies, such as commuter rail, by increasing our infrastructure for a dirty, expensive and risky form of oil.

The Keystone XL pipeline threatens American homes, farms, and ranches with tar sands oil spills and the extreme weather effects of worsening climate change. It raises oil prices. It derails continued growth in clean energy jobs. It funnels money to foreign oil corporations. Clean transportation solutions such as commuter rail and fuel efficiency – not another tar sands pipeline – is the only way to protect America’s economy, energy security, health, and environment.