Why Keystone XL is Not in the U.S. National Interest
Secretary of State John Kerry’s first major international meeting came with Canadian foreign minister John Baird. At the press conference, Secretary Kerry faced (and essentially shunted aside) questions about Keystone XL. A Climate Hawk as U.S. Senator, Secretary Kerry faced a difficult situation: Canada is pushing hard to enrich itself with the world’s worst environmental disaster and the United States has to decide whether it will help worsen the situation as the Department of State in nearing the end of a process of review of the Keystone XL pipeline.
In short, the question the Department of State must answer:
Is Keystone XL in the U.S. national interest?
And, more briefly, the answer:
With full explanations after the fold, here are reasons why Keystone XL is a reckless, dangerous, and counter-productive project that should not be allowed to proceed.
In short, Keystone XL would
- Contribute to increased greenhouse gas emissions;
- Foster accelerated damage to one of the most important carbon sinks;
- Create risks for water sources;
- Facilitate expansion of the most destructive industrial project on earth;
- Increase spill risks of extremely difficult to clean-up and damaging Dilbit in extremely sensitive ecosystems;
- Divert resources from efforts to reduce American and global dependence on fossil fuels;
- Threaten employment;
- Damage economic performance;
- Threaten American health;
- Increase gas prices for much of the American Heartland;
- Increase profitability of Canadian and other foreign oil interests by taking money out of Americans’ pockets; and,
- Damage American leadership around the globe as we struggle to mitigate climate change.
If this seems a long list, it is.
Despite the $10s ($100s) of millions spent on partial truths, disinformation, and propaganda, the fundamental facts demonstrate that this project should not go forward, that it is counter to U.S. national interest.
Crippling drought. Devastating wildfires. Superstorm Sandy. Climate has come home – and the American people get it.
The first step to putting our country on the path to addressing the climate crisis is for President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. His legacy as president will rest squarely on his response, resolve, and leadership in solving the climate crisis.
On 17 February 2013, President’s Day, 100,000s of American citizens will be in front of the White House calling for the Obama Administration to recognize — and declare — that the Keystone XL pipeline is not in the U.S. national interest. Join them.
A simple question to consider:
Let us take a moment to ‘review’ the bidding as to why Keystone XL pipeline is not in the national interest.
Thus, a simple question as to Keystone XL: Why not?
The Keystone XL pipeline would
- Ease expansion of environmentally devastating tar sands oil exploitation.
- Tar Sands exploitation devastates boreal forests, damages Canadian waterways/wetlands, and ravages wildlife populations (including migratory bird populations).
- As the world faces ever more serious fresh water supply constraints, Tar Sands is one of the energy sources most demanding and destructive of fresh water supplies.
- Tar Sands, as a fuel source, is significantly more polluting (by every measure) than traditional petroleum fuels.
- Worsen prospects for mitigating climate change
- One of the world’s leading climate scientists, James Hansen, has said that expanded tar sands production would be “game over” for the climate system and lead to irreversible catastrophic climate chaos.
- Climate scientists warn that Tar Sands production is beyond reckless in its implications. “If we fully develop the tar sands resources we will certainly lose control of the climate, we will get to a point where we can no walk back from the cliff.”
- Tar Sands production is up to three times more polluting — just in carbon emissions, alone, without counting boreal forest destruction — than other fossil fuel production.
- Lead to increased fuel prices for significant numbers of Americans
- Currently, tar sands imported into the United States are refined mainly in Upper Midwest refineries and oversupply of fuel products there have lead to a lowered crude fuel and consumer prices for much of the Upper Midwest when compared to global oil prices. Keystone XL would move this fuel into the international market and out of American fuel tanks.
- In fact, tar sands exploiters would see their profits come up, money coming out of American citizens’ pockets.
- Create increased risks of oil pipeline spills
- The first Keystone pipeline, which is relatively new, has had a large number of leaks.
- Keystone XL would go through sensitive areas where a pipeline leak could impact sensitive environmental areas and numerous Americans’ health.
- The product, called Dilbit, is much more dangerous and difficult to clean up in the event of a spill. Even the most cursory look at the industry’s record leads to a simple conclusion: pipeline spills will occur.
- Threaten employment
- The only significant independent review of the Keystone XL pipeline project’s employment impact creates significant risk for reducing overall employment.
- Industry claims have been contradictory and do not stand up to even the scantiest of open-minded scrutiny.
- Industry practices have been, seriously, at odds with their practices and delivered results.
- Hurt America’s prospects for achieving a clean energy future
- The pipeline would divert attention and resources from other paths and opportunities.
- The pipeline’s approval feeds into a ‘drill, baby, drill’ mentality that fundamentally fails that increased production is counter to achieving energy security.
- Undermine America’s ability to lead internationally.
- Addressing climate change will require difficult decisions by individuals, communities, businesses, and nations. Due to the $100s of billions involved and the power of polluting industries, the correct decision that rejecting Keystone XL is the right thing to do for U.S. national interest has become a difficult decision to make. If the United States is to be a world leader in addressing climate change and if the United States is to have any credibility in asking others to make difficult choices, the United States must show that it can make the correct decision even when it is difficult. As Professor John Abraham put it, “If we don’t say no now, when will we say no?“
Very simply, oil industry lobbyist claims to the contrary, the Keystone XL pipeline is not in the U.S. national interest.
Other Posts by A Siegel
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