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State Department Confirms Keystone XL Fails President's Own Climate Test

Frances Beinecke

Posted February 3, 2014

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The State Department released its review of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline for tar sands oil on Friday. Industry representatives tried to gloss over the conclusions right out of the gate. But there is no hiding from the facts.

The review gives President Obama everything he needs to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

The State Department concluded that the pipeline would put heartland communities, farms, and ranches in harm’s way. It would expose thousands of critical waterways, aquifers, and wells to the threat of tar sands oil spills—spills the State Department said are much harder to clean up than conventional crude. And it would carry oil for export to foreign ports, leaving the U.S to bear all the risks.

Most significantly, the State Department reported that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline could accelerate climate change by pumping more carbon pollution into our air. The surge in pollution would be similar to putting up to 5.7 million extra cars on the road, the review said.

The pipeline fails the climate test President Obama said he would use to evaluate this project. It’s time to reject it once and for all.


On Monday people across the country will be joining a national vigil to say no to the Keystone XL pipeline and yes to the clean power future our children deserve. Supported by NRDC and our allies, the vigil will take place in communities in nearly 50 states. Together we will send a powerful signal to President Obama and Secretary Kerry that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in our national interest.

How could it be in our nation’s interest to spew more dangerous pollution when we are already paying a steep price for climate change?

I just returned from California which is still in the grip of drought after experiencing its driest year on record. Ranchers are thinning herds, farmers are letting fields go fallow, and many are bracing for severe economic losses. Extreme drought—and storms and heat waves and other events—are on the rise across the nation, and they will continue to increase if our carbon pollution increases.

We don’t have to leave our children with this legacy. We can build a safer, more sustainable future, but we can’t build it on the fossil fuels of the past. We need more of the clean energy breakthroughs that have already begun improving our lives.

In the past 40 years, for instance, our fastest-growing source of energy hasn’t been oil. It hasn’t been natural gas, coal, or nuclear power. It’s been efficiency. Americans have found so many innovative ways to save energy that we have more than doubled the amount of economic productivity we get out of the oil and electricity we use. Indeed, efficiency has done more to meet growing energy needs than oil, gas, and nuclear combined. America has the ingenuity and resources to power our economy and shield our children from the hazards of climate change at the same time.

In the State of the Union last week, President Obama called for combating climate change, so “when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”

Answering yes to our children means saying no to Keystone XL. Join us Monday night in cities across the nation to stand as one and tell President Obama to reject the tar sands pipeline and yes to the clean power future our children deserve.


Photo credit: Melanie Blanding

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Steve WallersteinFeb 4 2014 03:44 PM

A few years ago, Secretary John Kerry sent me a book that he and his wife, Teresa wrote, titled "This Moment on Earth." Here are a few quotes from the book: "In this book we reconfirm the urgent threat of global climate change..."(ix); "We must set goals and begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before it's too late."(P.136); "As a nation, we must join-then lead-the global race for new, safer, nonpolluting sources of energy"(P.171); "The challenge is clear and compelling. Climate change is threatening the planet, life, and land due to human-made greenhouse gases."(P.196);
The State Department report talks about how local electric utilities will have to expand their infrastructure to service the pipeline's pumping stations. What if they don't or can't expand? Is the plan to have a wind turbine next to every pumping station?

Jan FreedFeb 8 2014 09:30 AM

There are many good reasons to say no. The IEA estimates that Keystone would harvest 3 times the carbon that would take us over 2 degrees C, the absolute limit for a catastrophe we might survive.

Read "IEA acknowledges fossil fuel reserves climate crunch"

2 degrees itself may be a "prescription for disaster.Who to believe? Consult our most trusted messengers, not the $billion Koch denial factory. They are complicit in the deaths of millions (worse even than Big Tobacco, spreading false hope).

These well paid con men croon, "if you like your wishful thinking, you can keep it". They have no shame, like someone born without a left testicle.

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