There are an awful lot of reasons to oppose Keystone XL, from the danger of spills to the hideous damage the mining does on native land in Alberta (the technical name for the vast tarsands complex, I think, is “Mordor”.)
Underlying them all, however, is the sheer quantity of carbon that the pipeline will pour into the atmosphere—and a new report just out today provides the vivid numbers. In a single year, the pipeline will add as much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as all the cars in California, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Michigan, and New York combined. That is, you could park every single car in every one of those states—every Escalade in L.A., every minivan in Michigan—and the pipeline would make up for it. The president’s people keep boasting about his plan to increase automobile mileage—but this pipeline will carry near as much oil as that will save. Over the next 35 years this one pipeline would carry as much carbon as the entire U.S. burned last year. And almost all of it will be going abroad, to help other countries turn themselves into import-dependent car cultures. And the only beneficiaries will be folks like the Koch Brothers, who have vast tarsands holdings, the giant oil companies, and the owners of the refineries, at least some of whom are Saudi oil barons.
Or maybe you'd rather measure in coal-fired power plants, not cars. Then your number would be 51--almost half the total that brave activists in the environmental justice movement and at the Sierra Club and elsewhere have managed to keep from being built.
The State Department preliminary EIS says these carbon emissions don’t really count, because the oil will get pumped out anyway. But as the new report demonstrates, State is cooking the books--and they have been from the start. without KXL it won’t, at least nowhere near as fast. The great activists along Canada’s West Coast, led by the First Nations people, have blocked the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline; if the oil is coming out, it’s coming out through Nebraska along Keystone. Which means that if you’re worried about the melt of the Arctic or the acidification of the ocean or the new dispensation of drought and flood, then one of the things you need to be concerned about is the Keystone pipeline. Not the only thing. We need a carbon tax and a huge push for renewables, and a dozen other things. But Keystone is important, and it’s easy. All the president has to do is say no.
Please submit a public comment to the State Department today—and please keep an eye out for appeals for help with nonviolent direct action in the weeks ahead.