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Susan Casey-Lefkowitz’s Blog

Expensive, dangerous and risky - what do Congressional Republicans gain from supporting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline?

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz

Posted January 24, 2012 in Curbing Pollution, Moving Beyond Oil, Saving Wildlife and Wild Places, Solving Global Warming

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After the State of the Union address tonight, we can expect Governor Daniels’ GOP response to sing the praises of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline which would put Americans at risk to benefit multinational oil companies. Keystone XL was rejected by the President last week as not in the national interest. This is a project through America, not to America. It is a project that would put our farms, waters, and climate at risk so that the oil industry could get a better price for tar sands in overseas markets. The President showed leadership in rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline – we have cleaner energy options than tar sands.

We don’t have to look far to see what is driving the GOP lawmakers in their praise of this dirty energy project. Jack Gerrard the head of the American Petroleum Institute, which counts the major tar sands oil players among its members, threatened serious political consequences if Keystone XL was not approved. And, instead of standing up for American health and safety and for American workers, the GOP Congressional staff met with the Canadian pipeline company TransCanada, planning ways to force approval of this project even to the extent of once again attaching it to a bill to extend the payroll tax credit.

Farmers, scientists, business-leaders, religious leaders, workers, mayors and many others know the truth about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  Congressional Republicans might tell us that Keystone XL will create tens or even hundreds of thousands of jobs. These wildly inflated numbers do a disservice to American workers who deserve a jobs plan that doesn’t put the health and safety of our children at risk. The GOP might tell us that Keystone XL is necessary for our security. But we know better when we see that the oil industry wants this pipeline to get higher prices for tar sands by having access to overseas markets from the Gulf Coast. And against expectations, Keystone XL would actually raise oil prices in the Midwest by diverting oil from that region to the Gulf for export. This is a simple calculation of supply and demand and another reason why the oil industry wants this pipeline so badly. TransCanada has admitted to Canadian regulators that Keystone XL will increase the price that the U.S. pays for Canadian oil by up to $4 billion.

Expensive, dangerous, and risky – what do GOP members of Congress have to gain from supporting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline? Certainly, farmers, landowners and people all across the United States already suffering the high cost of floods, storms and fires caused by climate change have much to lose and nothing to gain from this dirty energy project. What we need are more ways to decrease our dependence on oil. It is through clean energy that we will create jobs, increase our security and protect the health and safety of our children.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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