An amendment introduced last night by Senator Hoeven (Amendment 494), while non-binding, could support the approval and construction of the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It does not approve the pipeline, nor does it direct the president to approve it. It is instead an attempt to rattle the cage and call for a vote count on behalf of Big Oil. Senators should stand with the American people, not Big Oil, and vote against this amendment. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline threatens American homes, farms, and ranches with tar sands oil spills. And it threatens all of us by driving the expansion of the giant tar sands reserve and worsening climate change. It would raise oil prices. It would provide few jobs and derail continued growth in clean energy jobs. And it would funnel money to foreign oil corporations. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is all risk and no reward and has no place on the budget resolution.
The president made it clear in meetings last week on the Hill that the decision to approve or deny the pipeline must go through a review process led by the State Department. This review is critical to determine the impact of the pipeline as well as whether the pipeline is in the national interest. This process is not complete - the public comment period hasn’t even ended - and any effort to push approval of the pipeline before that process is finished is irresponsible and counter to the interests of the American public.
There is plenty of evidence the pipeline would have tremendous risks to climate and water. The draft State Department review confirmed that tar sands are up to 19 percent more greenhouse gas intensive than conventional oil. But the draft falsely concluded that Keystone XL will not lead to an expansion of tar sands development. In fact, the evidence suggests otherwise. There is plenty of evidence that the delay so far has in fact slowed development and cooled investor confidence. Approval would be a shot in the arm to the tar sands industry and would carry so much tar sands oil into the U.S. and other countries that the climate impacts would be the equivalent of putting 6-9 million new cars on the road. Claims that rail will proceed in lieu of Keystone XL have no basis in reality.
The draft review also acknowledged the difficulties in cleaning up a tar sands spill. Three years after the tar sands spill in Michigan – where nearly 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River are still contaminated by tar sands after nearly a billion dollars in cleanup activities – the significant risks posed by tar sands spills are clear. But despite the fact that Keystone XL could spill almost 8 times what was spilled into the Kalamazoo, the draft State Department found the project would not have a significant impact.
This is not a pipeline for US economic or energy security, but a project to spur tar sands expansion, raise oil prices and help the international oil industry. An expedited the decision will close out landowners and communities along the pipeline’s path.
Two powerful Huffington Post blogs posted this morning made it clear Keystone XL is not in Amercica's best interest. Actor and director Robert Redford said the Senate has an obligation to share the truth about this pipeline with their constituents including:
1) It's GREAT for Big Oil. BAD for America. And REALLY BAD for climate change, producing three times more global warming pollution than conventional crude production, and using vast amounts of energy and water, causing significant pollution to both air and water.
2) Canadian citizens are against tar sands pipelines too, fighting the Gateway Pipeline to their west coast -- and through British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest -- and the Trailbreaker pipeline to carry tar sands to east to Maine.
Michael Northrup with the Rockefellers Brothers Fund said there are over a dozen reasons why the pipeline is in Big Oil’s interest and not Americas including:
...if we wait too much longer, Americans will realize this has nothing to do with U.S. energy security. In reality, only a small portion will be used in the United States. Oil companies can get a higher price for these fuels in Asia.
The draft review confirmed what industry has been saying that the pipeline’s main purpose is to serve as an export pipeline to fuel international markets rather than U.S. consumers.
The draft review also showed Keystone XL is not a job creator and found it will create only 35 permanent jobs and 3,900 construction jobs – a fraction of the exaggerated job claims made by proponents of the tar sands pipeline.
Senator Murray’s budget charts a responsible path forward for our nation that recognizes a healthy environment supports a healthy economy. The Committee-passed budget reflects the values embraced by the public who want cleaner air, drinkable water, and a clean energy future that cuts pollution and creates jobs. Adding dirty fuels like tar sands would undermine this vision and is not in the national interest.