Disaster in the Pipeline —- Ads Tell Obama to Reject Tar Sands Permit

Kenny Bruno is campaign director at Corporate Ethics International and the U.S. Coordinator for the No Tar Sands Oil Campaign. “President Obama: You couldn’t prevent the oil disaster in the Gulf. But you CAN prevent the next one. STOP the Keystone XL pipeline.” That’s the theme of a two-week ad campaign that kicked off in Washington this week, with spots on the Daily Show and the Colbert Show, during drive time talk radio, and online at Politico, Talking Points Memo and Roll Call. The proposed TransCanada Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would carry as much as 900,000 barrels a day of the dirtiest oil in the world from Alberta, Canada, across America’s heartland to oil refineries in Texas. The ads are a reminder that while previous decisions about tar sands expansion were initiated under President George W. Bush, the Keystone XL is entirely the Obama Administration’s responsibility. And while it would be unfair to hold President Obama responsible for what happened with the BP Horizon Deepwater disaster, if disaster strikes the Midwest as a result of the Keystone XL, it’s on him. A recently released report finds that the pipeline will not be nearly as safe as TransCanada and their proponents claim. Plains Justice, a non-profit group based in Montana, details “oil spill planning deficiencies in the Keystone pipeline system” and finds that “federal regulations for crude oil pipeline response plans are much weaker than regulations for other potential polluters, such as oil tankers and oil refineries.” Additional research from the Natural Resources Defense Council has uncovered something that no agency has bothered to notice: diluted bitumen, which would run through the pipeline, is more corrosive than conventional crude and yet the pipeline permitting process has not taken this into account to consider the greater likelihood for leaks and spills. The threat of spills, as well as serious potential impacts on drinking water and lands near the pipeline, are serious concerns. But this decision is also a moment of truth on energy policy for the Obama Administration. Every major piece of infrastructure built for oil empowers Big Oil. Every pipeline deepens our addiction to oil, instead of helping us move away from oil dependence. Because it crosses an international border, the Keystone XL pipeline requires a Presidential Permit. Instead of saying, as Secretary Clinton did recently, “we’re either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf or dirty oil from Canada… until we get our act together…” the President and Secretary can say, in effect, “we’re getting our act together right now and doing everything we can to stop ALL oil dependence, starting with avoiding this dirty and dangerous pipeline.” The ad campaign from the No Tar Sands Oil Coalition comes at a critical moment for the Keystone XL pipeline. The State Department is considering a request by Members of Congress, administration agencies and environmental groups to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, a study that would take into account concerns ranging from lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions to impact ondrinking water in Nebraska to the risk of spills. Failure to conduct the Supplemental would be a signal that the State Department is unconcerned with the seriousness of this issue and the major implications it has for energy policy as a whole. Secretary Clinton needs to consider the implications for this pipeline beyond Canada and the United States’ diplomatic relationship. The Keystone XL pipeline could potentially impact the lives and economies of citizens across six states should disaster strike. A thorough assessment of the environmental and public health impacts of the proposed pipeline should not be a question of if, but of absolute necessity. President Obama, our addiction to oil, our desperation for oil, is leading to disaster after disaster. You can prevent the next oil disaster. So please, STOP the Keystone XL pipeline. ((02 DEC 2010))






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