The Keystone XL pipeline is one of the most important decisions on climate change that President Obama will make. Approving the pipeline would encourage expanded production of the Canadian tar sands, some of the dirtiest oil on the planet. The Keystone XL pipeline would transport this oil 2,000 miles from the boreal forests of Canada across America’s heartland to an international shipping port on the Gulf Coast in order to export it.
The pipeline is being pushed by TransCanada, whose terrible safety record is evidenced by the 12 spills of their original Keystone pipeline in its first year alone, despite guarantees from TransCanada’s CEO that the original pipeline would “meet or exceed world-class safety and environmental standards.” A spill from the Keystone XL pipeline could have tragic consequences for the communities it would transect. Unlike normal crude oil, the bitumen from tar sands is a heavy, asphalt-like product that must be diluted with toxic chemicals in order to flow through a pipeline. These chemicals evaporate during a spill, leaving nearby people with headaches, nausea, and respiratory issues with unknown long term effects. The product left behind sinks to the bottom of water bodies in semi-solid form, making cleanup far more difficult than in the case of normal oil spills.For assuming all the risks of this dangerous pipeline, the U.S. would receive few rewards—Keystone XL will only create 35 permanent jobs, will not lower gas prices for Americans, and will do nothing to reduce our reliance on foreign oil or increase our energy independence. This pipeline will carry oil that is dirtier, riskier, and more expensive so that big oil companies can then ship tar sands products to China or India. Keystone XL is all risk, no reward; LCV urges President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and for Congress to support his decision.
Big oil and gas companies are among the most profitable companies in the world. So why do they continue to benefit from billions of dollars every year in taxpayer giveaways, such as tax deductions, special accounting rules, and drilling without paying royalties for exploiting the American people’s natural resources? These subsidies for polluters are especially indefensible at a time when concern about our nation’s debt is prompting cuts to essential programs, including those that safeguard the air we breathe and the water we drink. President Obama has repeatedly called for eliminating oil and gas subsidies that would save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars over the next decade. LCV will continue fighting until Congress repeals these and other wasteful polluter subsidies.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of America's greatest natural treasures. This vast Alaskan wilderness expanse is virtually untouched by humans and is home to moose, caribou, polar bears, and hosts millions of migratory birds, as well as a unique collection of arctic and sub-arctic landscapes.
Unfortunately, this landscape and the wildlife and fish that depend upon it are at risk. Big Oil and their allies in Washington have long wanted to get their hands on this iconic American wilderness, falsely arguing that the tiny amount of oil found there relative to global oil supply would somehow lower gas prices that are set on a global market. LCV is committed to defending the Refuge’s incomparable landscape from dangerous drilling. As climate change continues to warm the Arctic region, sea ice cover is greatly diminishing, with predictions that Arctic summers could become ice-free by as early as 2016. Big Oil views this as an opportunity and is pushing to drill in the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska. Taking advantage of the impacts of climate change to drill for more fossil fuels that will worsen climate change is the height of irresponsibility. Indeed, Shell’s disastrous attempts to drill in 2012—culminating in the grounding of its drillship on some rocks during a massive storm—highlighted the risks of operating in such remote, pristine, and unforgiving waters. LCV strongly opposes all attempts at drilling in the Arctic Ocean.
LCV has strong concerns about the environmental and public health impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a growing but under-regulated oil and natural gas production technique that is impacting and alarming communities all across the country. The risks from the lifecycle of fracking include air pollution, especially methane emissions, with local and global impacts, contamination of groundwater and surface water by toxic chemicals, overburdening of communities and infrastructure, and improper disposal of hazardous fracking waste. That is why LCV supports robust new safeguards for fracking at the state and federal levels, including closing loopholes in the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and other environmental statutes; requiring the industry to disclose the chemicals used in fracking; preserving communities’ rights to restrict fracking within their jurisdictions; and prohibiting fracking in our most precious and ecologically-sensitive public lands.