President Obama last year delayed the final decision the Keystone XL Pipeline. Since then, the President promised in his second inaugural address that the United States would “respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” One day later, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved a revised route for the pipeline, removing a major hurdle to its construction.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been a hotly debated topic for many years. In November of 2011, the Obama Administration pushed the deadline on its final pipeline decision into 2013, determining that current impact studies on the proposed pipeline were insufficient to make a final decision.
What's at Stake:
ASBC believes that if it is not addressed, climate change is going to impose substantial economic cost on the US through the need to harden our infrastructure and repair storm-damaged homes, businesses and other assets. These costs will make the US economy less productive and less competitive. To address this danger, the United States needs to take action both to lower our own carbon output and put ourselves in a better negotiation position with other large emitting nations (mainly China and India) without whose cooperation no solution is possible.
Further, the money that would be spent to build the pipeline would help the economy more if spent towards developing less carbon-intensive energy sources and infrastructure (such as smart grid) and increasing energy efficiency. In fact, a March 2012 study from Cornell University noted, an equal investment in clean energy generates 3 to 4 times as many jobs as investments in fossil fuels, without the potential environmental hazards posed by pipelines like Keystone XL.
The State Department, which has to approve the Keystone XL pipeline since it originates in a foreign country, released a draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on March 1st. In it, they claimed the pipeline will not “likely result in significant adverse environmental effects.” The claim arises from the assumption that the tar sands will be extracted and burned anyway, regardless of US action - the report admitted that tar sands generate far more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional petroleum, and that the US can meet its energy needs without the pipeline. Without Keystone, however, transportation capabilities for the tar sands may be very limited and could limit extraction, even if the tar sands are still extracted.
The State Department is currently reviewing the Keystone proposal. In his June climate address President Obama referenced the pending decision on the pipeline, saying that, “Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.” Previously, Obama had never addressed the environmental concerns associated with Keystone XL. The State Department will soon release a final EIS, and the administration will then address the proposal. Ultimately, the decision to approve or reject the pipeline is President Obama’s. We hope this time he will show his commitment to fighting climate change and block Keystone XL’s construction for good.
It is urgent that you tell President Obama and Secretary Kerry to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline.
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