Measure could force approval of controversial energy project
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — House Republicans ratcheted up their showdown with President Obama over the Keystone XL pipeline this week, passing a measure that would force the issuance of a permit within 30 days.
Obama previously rejected the pipeline after conservation advocates rallied the public, showing widespread grassroots opposition to the project. The legislation is expected to be incorporated into larger energy and transportation legislation and could see a vote on the House floor next week. An amendment that would have required the oil to remain in the United States, proposed by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), failed.
Environmental advocates say the pipeline would directly threaten numerous endangered species, increase U.S. dependence on fossil fuels and create a huge risk of oil spills.
Republicans say the pipeline project would create jobs, lower fuel costs and displace less stable energy imports with millions of barrels of safe and secure Canadian oil supplies.
“It is not unprecedented to lay an oil pipeline across America. Many pipelines already crisscross our great country,” said Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry. “Opposition to Keystone demonstrates a lack of knowledge about how energy is moved throughout the U.S., or a desire to gain political points,” said Terry.
“This legislation forcing approval of the Keystone XL pipeline isn’t about jobs or national security,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Instead, it’s about the corrupting influence of money in Congress and the willingness of congressional Republicans to do the bidding of Big Oil. If it’s built, Keystone XL will foul our land, air, and water and put us on a dangerous trajectory toward climate catastrophe.”
The Keystone XL pipeline would transport tar-sands oil from Canada across 1,700 miles, six states and hundreds of water bodies, with the risk of oil spills along every mile. An existing pipeline called Keystone 1 has already leaked 14 times since it started operating in June 2010, including one spill that gushed 21,000 gallons of tar-sands crude.
The extraction and refinement of tar-sands oil produces two to three times more greenhouse gases per barrel than does conventional oil, representing a massive new source of fossil fuels that leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has said will call “game over” in our efforts to avoid irreversible global-warming calamity.
Strip mining of oil from Alberta’s tar sands is also destroying tens of thousands of acres of boreal forest and polluting hundreds of millions of gallons of water from the Athabasca River, in the process creating toxic ponds so large they can be seen from space.
“Keystone XL would be an environmental disaster and create few permanent jobs in the process,” Greenwald said. “Instead, much of the oil would be exported, and the United States would be left with oil spills, polluted landscapes and a deeper dependence on fossil fuels.”