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86 groups say no to Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline

Liz Barratt-Brown

Posted February 4, 2011

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Today, 86 groups representing millions of Americans and individuals from around the world called on President Obama to say no to the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline and instead support a clean energy future. “America’s national interest is best served by promoting solutions that will end our oil dependence, including ending our dependence on expensive oil from Canada’s dirty tar sands,” the groups wrote. The letter also urged Obama to “stop giving a free pass to oil companies to increase profits at the expense of Americans.”

The letter is especially timely, sent in advance of President Obama’s meeting at the White House with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which is occurring this afternoon. Canada has been lobbying heavily for the U.S. to increase their imports of Canada’s tar sands, and it is expected that energy and climate will be on Obama and Harper’s meeting agenda and likely Keystone XL, which has recently become a high profile decision for the Administration. Major environmental organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth signed the letter as did dozens of environmental, religious, landowner, student and other groups from around the country and abroad. All are asking President Obama to make it clear that the U.S. will not compromise its clean energy future by increasing its dependency on Canada’s dirty tar sands oil.

Tar sands oil from Canada causes significantly more air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil and is putting communities at risk where it is extracted, along the pipeline routes where it is transported, and where it is refined. Especially of concern in the United States is that Keystone XL would cross over and – in some places – through the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water for millions of Americans.

These voices represent a growing chorus asking the Obama Administration to deny the permit for Keystone XL in favor of clean energy. Numerous actions have been taken and letters sent over the last few months opposing or expressing concern about the pipeline. Here are just a few of the most recent examples: 

  • In October, 11 Senators wrote to Secretary Clinton asking critical questions about the need for the pipeline, the air and water pollution it would cause, and if it really would bring us energy security
  • Nebraska Senators Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns have sent several letters to Secretary Clinton and others, concerned about running the pipeline over the Ogallala Aquifer and calling for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. And on January, 21 Nebraska State Senators sent Secretary Clinton a letter expressing support for the views and requests of Senators Nelson and Johanns
  • In November, 30 Green Group leaders sent a letter to the State Department calling for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)
  • In December, 34 Members of Congress requested additional environmental review for the proposed project in the form of an SEIS

In addition to some of these higher profile letters, Nebraska farmers have come out in opposition to the pipeline, which would threaten their land and irrigation water and even in Texas, which has "rarely met an oil facility it didn't like," there are thousands of citizens and many groups opposing the pipeline. In the past year, over 250,000 letters have been written opposing or expressing concern about the pipeline.

With such a large and varied contingent opposing more tar sands expansion and the Keystone XL pipeline, we are hopeful that President Obama will stand up for our clean energy future.

This blog was written jointly with Elizabeth Shope.

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Lucie MacfarlaneFeb 7 2011 02:18 PM

....How about we grow some male hemp for energy...? sound good..? .sounds good to me...Lets get serious about clean energy...grow male hemp..!!

Breck BrowningFeb 7 2011 04:28 PM

There should WITHOUT QUESTION be environmental impact studies done. The residents of the areas involved need to be protected from ANY damage to their water supplies.....

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