On the final day of the comment period on Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submitted a comment letter outlining many ways in which the State Department’s draft environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was flawed. The EPA said that the State Department provided an incomplete and “insufficient” assessment of Keystone XL’s potential impacts on the environment, climate change, and public health, which is what environmental groups like LCV have said all along.
Among the EPA’s concerns are the “additional risks” that tar sands spills pose on our water and health, as compared to conventional oil spills, and the increased greenhouse gas emissions that come with tar sands production. The EPA also criticized the route of the pipeline, which would cross the Ogallala Aquifer, one of our nation’s most important sources of irrigation and drinking water.
The EPA’s comment letter is critically important because it builds on the mounting evidence that the State Department report is unacceptable. As the Washington Post put it yesterday, “How much does it matter that the Environmental Protection Agency has officially questioned aspects of the State Department’s draft environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal? A lot.”
Keystone XL would transfer tar sands oil, the dirtiest oil on the planet, through the middle of this country, risking our waterways and agricultural lands so oil companies can export Canada’s oil to other foreign countries. To make matters worse, the company behind Keystone XL, TransCanada, has a terrible safety record. They built a different pipeline called “Keystone” in 2010. Between the U.S. and Canada, the original Keystone pipeline had over 30 spills in its first year, including one spill that released 21,000 gallons of oil. These spills came after TransCanada’s CEO pledged the pipeline would “meet or exceed world-class safety and environmental standards.”
Keystone XL would be nearly twice as wide as the pipeline that recent ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas, and would carry almost nine times as much tar sands oil every day. That spill covered neighborhood streets and backyards and forced dozens of people to evacuate their homes.
On the same day that the EPA voiced their concerns about Keystone XL, a coalition of environmental groups including LCV announced that opponents of the pipeline have submitted more than one million comments calling for the Obama Administration to reject it. This massive outpouring is another sign that momentum is building nationwide against Keystone XL as it becomes clearer than ever that this project is all risk and no reward.
Secretary Kerry and President Obama should listen to the EPA and the American people, and reject the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline once and for all.