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The editorial in the February 19th edition of USA Today calls for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. It offers the same old talking points. Canada will develop the tar sands whether we buy it or not, so we should buy more. Don't worry about pipeline safety, we have oodles and oodles of pipeline already (which frequently leak). We are not ready to transition to clean renewable sources of energy. In other words, what is good for the oil companies is also good for America. To hell with the climate.

The paper did give Bill McKibben a chance to write a rebuttal. He points out that climate change is already serious and will be made worse by the rapid expansion of tar sands extraction.

Here is where you come in.

1. Vote in the polls on each page:

Tell USA Today we are ready to protect the climate

Support Bill in saying NO to the Keystone XL

2. Raise Your Voice:

Letter to editor: Letters@usatoday.com

Facebook post: Facebook.com/USATODAYOPINION

Tweet: @USATODAYOPINION

The Forward on Climate rallies have had an impact. The media, however reluctantly and derisively, covered the rallies. USA Today even felt compelled to mention them in the editorial.

Thousands demonstrated in Washington on Sunday against the project, asserting that the pipeline would unlock so much dirty oil that it would be "game over" for the globe if the project proceeds.
Expansion of the tar sands extraction will drastically increase greenhouse gas emissions, for which Canada has no significant plans to limit. The Canadian government wants profit without responsibility.

While stopping the Keystone XL pipeline will not stop tar sands extraction, it will make it more difficult and expensive to get to markets. That cost will slow demand and development.

The US government has been ineffectual in regulating emissions from refineries. Oil companies have been fighting regulations to limit toxic emissions from refineries, much less limit greenhouse gases. Since toxic and greenhouse emissions are much higher for refining tar sands heavy oil than conventional crude, the environmental burden falls on us.

This is not a critical infrastructure project for the United States. Once built, almost all the benefits will go to the oil and pipeline companies, along with the Canadian government. Billing it as necessary or in the best interests of the American people is simply not true.

The cost-benefits of pipeline construction are also unsound. Contrary to misleading claims from the oil industry, the project will only create a few short-term construction jobs. There will be spills (all pipelines spill). There are serious questions about the pipeline safety record TransCanada, the company building the Keystone XL pipeline (e.g., here, here, and here). Leaks in the Keystone XL pipeline will be more expensive and difficult to clean up because of the heavy oil chemical cocktail. Enbridge is still dragging its feet about cleaning up a large tar sands crude spill in Michigan.

Anyone who thinks that tar sands oil will lower their price at the pump is kidding themselves. Tar sands development is not profitable until prices reach the $80/barrel range. Little will come to market until market price is above that benchmark. Market prices of oil are set on the global market, which is driven by global production and demand.

USA Today is wrong. We are ready for clean energy, but the myriad of subsidies and tax breaks given to fossil fuels slows rate of adoption.

Let's raise our voices with Bill McKibben's and say no to Keystone XL. Let USA Today hear you.

1. Vote in the polls on each page:

Tell USA Today we are ready to protect the climate

Support Bill in saying NO to the Keystone XL

2. Raise Your Voice:

Letter to editor: Letters@usatoday.com

Facebook post: Facebook.com/USATODAYOPINION

Tweet: @USATODAYOPINION

(Note: The paper gathers a sample of reactions on the editorial page later in week.)

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