As Exxon admits that its Pegasus Pipeline spilled at least half a million gallons of tar sands crude, more than three times larger than its initial estimates, into the streets and waterways of Mayflower, Arkansas, a diverse coalition environmentalists, ranchers, landowners, Native Americans and politicians are getting ready to prevent TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline from ever committing a similar disaster in the Midwest.
The “All Risk, No Reward Coalition” launched a flurry of TV ads that, according to the press release, “will educate the American people on the ‘All Risk and No Reward” of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and urge President Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to reject it.” The TV ad is saturating the airwaves in Grand Island, Nebraska in anticipation of a Thursday State Department hearing on the Northern Route Approval Act, a bill that would remove the final decision on the fate of Keystone XL from President Obama’s hands and approving the pipeline outright.
“[Alberta Premier Alison] Redford and Canadian oil companies may benefit from the pipeline, but folks here at home will be the ones taking on all of the risk, without any reward,” said Rachel Wolf, a spokeswoman for the All Risk No Reward group, in response to Redford’s recent visit to Washington to lobby for the approval of Keystone XL.
The Nebraska hearing follows a similar affair held in Washington for the House energy committee, where Canadian climate economist Mark Jaccard testified that, despite the conclusion in the State Department’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), “The denial of Keystone XL will help to slow development of the oil sands. As a growing source of carbon emissions, slowing the expansion of oil sands is an important step.” Numerous oil industry pundits and executives have made the same claim.
Meanwhile, U.S. environmental organizations are ramping up a 10-day online campaign to deliver one million #NoKXL comments to President Obama and Secretary Kerry by Earth Day (April 22), the last day of the public comment period for the Keystone XL SEIS. More than 700,000 people have said no to KXL already, and organizers are hoping to break the one-million mark before the weekend.
According to 350.org’s website, “The Keystone XL Pipeline is dangerous, dirty, and destructive – and the latest Environmental Impact Statement was both inaccurate and incomplete. It ignores the pipeline’s significant risk for toxic spills, ignores its catastrophic impacts on our climate, and ignores the clear consensus among financial analysts and oil executives who agree Keystone XL will make the difference in tar sands development.”
Cooking the Books, a new report from Oil Change International, calculates the true carbon footprint of the Keystone XL pipeline. If approved, Keystone XL would be responsible for at least 181 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year, comparable to the tailpipe emissions from more than 37.7 million cars or 51 coal-fired power plants. Between 2015 and 2050, the pipeline alone would result in emissions of 6.34 billion metric tons of CO2e – an amount greater than the total carbon dioxide emissions of the United States in 2011.