Whooping craneResources: Keystone XL Pipeline Public Meetings, Sept. 26-Oct. 7, 2011

The U.S. State Department will soon be holding public meetings to get input on the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and they need to hear from you! Find a public meeting near you.

Below are facts and resources that can help prepare you for the meetings. You should plan on having 3 to 5 minutes to speak.

Audio iconListen to an audio recording of the September 23rd tele-training, with more background information about the Keystone XL pipeline and what to expect at the meetings.


FACTS
:

    1. There is unprecedented public opposition to this pipeline. More info.

    2. The Keystone XL pipeline isn't needed and detracts from the U.S. goals to develop more efficient, cleaner and productive transportation solutions. More info.

    3. Tar sands won't be going to Asia without the Keystone XL pipeline. More info.

    4. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline will promote oil dependency and harms U.S. security. More info.

    5. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline will increase oil prices in the American Midwest. More info.

    6. Secret email exchanges between TransCanada and the State Department reveal inappropriate coaching on the environmental review process. More info here and here.

    7. The job potential from Keystone XL has been significantly exaggerated and ignores how the pipeline undermines U.S. commitments to a clean energy economy. More info.

    8. The pipeline places unnecessary risks to drinking water from the Ogallala aquifer. More info.

    9. Increasing reliance on dirty tar sands undermines U.S. objectives to combat climate change. More info.

    10. Canada's environmental and climate record on tar sands is weak. More info.

    11. The environmental review for the Keystone XL pipeline is still missing key analysis. More info.

    12. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is adverse to landowners. More info.

    13. Safety risks have not been adequately assessed. More info.


RESOURCES
:

    1. Web site: Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

    2. Fact Sheet: Backgrounder on the Final Environmental Impact Statement

    3. Fact Sheet: Backgrounder on the National Interest Determination

    4. Fact sheet: Clockwork Contamination

    5. Fact sheet: Pipeline for Profit

    6. Washington Post article: TransCanada Lobbyist Paul Elliott

    7. Oil Change International: Exporting Energy Security, Keystone XL Exposed

    8. NRDC Blog: Tar Sands: They Won't Be Going To Asia Without Keystone XL

    9. Fact Sheet: Cornell Global Labor Institute fact sheet on Keystone XL Jobs

    10. TransCanada Response to Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns

    11. Evidence of State Department Coaching TransCanada 1

    12. Evidence of State Department Coaching TransCanada 2

 

TAKE ACTION:  
Submit a comment by October 9th: Urge the Obama Administration to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

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There is unprecedented public opposition to this pipeline.
Millions of Americans are opposed to this pipeline. An unprecedented number of Americans from all walks of life oppose Keystone XL including the National Farmers Union, Transport Workers Union, Amalgamated Transit Union, National Congress of American Indians, mayors, scientists, Nobel Peace Laureates, landowners, members of Congress and communities that would be hit hardest by refinery pollution in Texas.

The Keystone XL pipeline isn't needed and detracts from the U.S. goals to develop more efficient, cleaner and productive transportation solutions.
The United States has enough oil pipeline capacity without the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.There is already a whole system of pipelines from Alberta to the United States with recent approvals for two major dedicated raw tar sands oil pipelines to the Midwest. Industry estimates that these pipelines cannot be filled to capacity until 2025. In the meantime, by 2025, the United States can reduce oil use by over 4 million barrels per day (mbd), consistent with President Obama's pledge to reduce oil use by about 3.7 mbd within the same timeframe. We can achieve these savings by implementing fuel economy standards, putting in place heavy truck standards, and making improvements in air travel and building efficiency. We can also "drill on Main Street" moving more transportation to public and non-motorized transit, including plug in electric vehicles. Deeper cuts – 7 mbd – are possible by 2030. In short, we do not have an everescalating need for more oil and we can offset our oil use already now in the short-term.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline will promote oil dependency and harms U.S. security.
The proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will further lock the U.S. into oil dependency. Several of America’s military leaders say that the U.S. addiction to all oil regardless of its source undermines foreign policy and economic stability. Shifting U.S. imports from unfriendly to friendly nations like Canada will do nothing to address underlying problems caused by America’s oil addiction. In fact, Keystone XL would do nothing to stop the U.S. from importing oil from the Middle East. Rather, U.S. demand for oil drives up the global price of oil which lines the pockets of the unfriendly countries like Iran and Syria regardless of whether the US buys the oil. The only way for America to reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern oil is to reduce its dependence on all oil. Furthermore, recent evidence now suggests that the real purpose of the pipeline is to give tar sands producers access to international markets. One of the top beneficiaries of the pipeline, Valero will be exporting the Canadian oil they receive.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline will increase oil prices in the American Midwest.
According to TransCanada, the pipeline will increase the price of oil in the Midwest adding almost $2 to $4 billion annually to the U.S. fuel bill providing multi-national oil companies with the profits. It will do this by diverting major volumes of tar sands oil that currently goes to the U.S. Midwest to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Further, the Keystone XL pipeline will do nothing to insulate the U.S. from oil price volatility.

The job potential from Keystone XL has been significantly exaggerated and ignores how the pipeline undermines U.S. commitments to a clean energy economy.
The proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline won’t provide the job benefits touted by TransCanada who inflates the job potential from the Keystone XL pipeline by 13 times. According to the Cornell University Global Labor Institute, claims that there will be 20,000 direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs cannot be substantiated. In fact, the State Department’s own study suggests that far fewer jobs – no more than 6,000 direct jobs – will be created and most of them will be non-local and temporary. Instead, the United States can create as much as 2 million new jobs by investing in clean energy technologies – four times as many jobs that are created from the same spending in the oil industry.

The pipeline places unnecessary risks to drinking water from the Ogallala aquifer.
Because raw tar sands bitumen is more corrosive and abrasive than normal crude oil, the pipeline threatens to pollute freshwater supplies in America’s agricultural heartland. According to estimates, a pipeline failure could gush 7.9 million tar sands crude into the Ogallala aquifer that provides essential water supply to three million people and farmers.

Increasing reliance on dirty tar sands undermines U.S. objectives to combat climate change.
Greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands extraction and upgrading is 3-4 times more greenhouse gas intensive than conventional oil. For example, the Keystone XL pipeline threatens to undo the gains that would be made from proposed rules to address greenhouse gas emissions for new trucks. If fully utilized, the Keystone XL pipeline would add an addition 27 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) annually than emissions from average U.S crude. This is equivalent to seven coal-fired plants operating continuously.

Canada's environmental and climate record on tar sands is weak.
While Canadian politicians and oil companies claim they are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the fact is Canada has a weak policy on climate. While Canada has made an international commitment to reduce its emissions by 17 percent by 2020, it is actually on track for a 7 percent increase in emissions. Tar sands production is rapidly expanding and acts as a barrier to Canada’s climate progress. Tar sands emissions have more than doubled since 1990 and are expected to triple between now and 2020. Emissions from production will account for 95 percent of the growth in Canada’s industrial emissions between 2006 and 2020. Furthermore, the Alberta and Canadian governments have a weak regime in place to limit or eliminate the environmental impact of tar sands especially with recent land use planning and monitoring announcements. An independent expert science panel concluded that while the Canadian federal government has the authority to regulation tar sands, they have not been doing so.

The environmental review for the Keystone XL pipeline is still missing key analysis.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement released by the U.S. State Department in August 2011 fails to adequately address the environmental impacts and safety risks posed by the pipeline. For example, the environmental assessment assumes there is a need for the pipeline and fails to analyze alternatives such as the U.S. adoption of more aggressive fuel economy standards and other oil reduction policy. The safety of the pipeline has yet to be analyzed. Transporting the more corrosive raw tar sands oil, or diluted bitumen, through a pipeline can lead to spills and leaks – such as the over 30 spills experienced by the first Keystone pipeline in its first year of operation in Canada and the United States. The pipeline will increase toxic air emissions as refining tar sands crude results in high emissions for harmful air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, sulfuric acid mist and toxic metals. This will have a disproportionate impact on minority and low income populations and has not been fully analyzed in the environmental assessment. And finally, while the environmental review correctly acknowledges that tar sands has a higher greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil, it erroneously concludes the pipeline will not result in an increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is adverse to landowners.
In April of this year, TransCanada’s issued an ultimatum indicating they will take private property through eminent domain, one of the bluntest legal tools available. This came after they promised not to threaten and bully. Taking people’s property against their will is the ultimate insult from this spurious scheme.

Safety risks have not been adequately assessed.
Up to 830,000 barrels a day could be pumped through the 1,700 miles of pipeline through the middle of the country. Tar sands are inherently more corrosive than other fuels when they spill and the risks of long term damage have never been adequately studied. A pipeline spill and leaks could dump toxins in our ground and surface waters, which would degrade our water and injure our wildlife, from walleye to Sandhill cranes.

A spill of raw crude oil, some of the dirtiest fuel on the planet, could have devastating and long-lasting impacts. A serious spill could contaminate the Midwest’s Ogallala aquifer, a major water supply and source of agriculture irrigation water to much of the Great Plains. The pipeline and its infrastructure would jeopardize the health, safety and quality of the Ogallala and other freshwater resources. A spill could impair habitat like the Platte River in Nebraska, an important spring migration stopover site for endangered whooping cranes and other birds. A spill could contaminate Oklahoma’s Deep Fork Wildlife Area, home to bald eagles and bobcats.

The Missouri and Niobrara Rivers, the Ogallala aquifer, sage grouse habitat, walleye fisheries, crop lands, wildlife habitats and recreational opportunities will all be at risk of dangerous tar sands oil leaks. At the very least, the public should be assured that the company faces full liability for any accidents, spills or other harm, if you approve this project.

Then, there’s air pollution. Refining of tar sands oil emits higher levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, lead, mercury, and other toxic pollutants than conventional oil. This adds more pollutants to the air around the communities located around the refineries, some of which already fail to meet clean air standards for soot, smog and other pollutants. Air pollution exacerbates respiratory diseases like asthma and emphysema.

Finally, are not convinced that the company has prepared a sound emergency spill response plan. How many Gulf of Mexico or Yellowstone or Kalamazoo River disasters do we have to go through to see that companies’ emergency response plans are ineffective?

Sources for the above information can be found on this fact sheet.