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If Movement Fails to Draw the Line Against Keystone XL in TX & OK, We All Flunk the Climate Test

11:30 am in Uncategorized by Tom Weis

Cross-posted with EcoWatch

I had a chance to read FAIL: How the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Flunks the Climate Test, a recent report issued by the Sierra Club and Oil Change International and endorsed by a dozen other environmental organizations. The 17-page report makes a rock solid case that “constructing Keystone XL will lead to tar sands industry expansion, and tar sands industry expansion will significantly exacerbate climate pollution.”

The report documents how the Keystone XL would be a pipeline through the U.S. by delivering toxic tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries, thereby opening the floodgates for Canada’s dirty energy to be exported overseas.

What the report fails to mention, however, is the central fact that it is the 485-mile southern leg of Keystone XL already being constructed in Texas and Oklahoma — not the pipeline’s proposed northern leg — that will give TransCanada strategic access to these U.S. coastal ports.

TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline being constructed on Michael Bishop’s property in Texas.

Here’s the inconvenient truth about the Keystone XL: TransCanada does not need the pipeline’s northern leg to begin pumping hundreds of thousands of barrels of toxic tar sands daily through America’s breadbasket for export overseas. This map shows how they will accomplish this by simply connecting Keystone XL’s southern leg to Keystone I (the orange line on the map) built by TransCanada in 2010.

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune is right to describe the Keystone XL as “a test of the president’s commitment” to combating climate change. But the test isn’t being given in 2014 over whether Obama approves or rejects a permit for the pipeline’s northern leg. The test is being administered right now in Texas and Oklahoma, where the Keystone XL’s 485-mile southern leg is already 90 percent constructed and scheduled to go online by late this year or early next.

Here are some key findings of the FAIL report:

• The Keystone XL pipeline is absolutely critical to the expansion of tar sands development in landlocked Alberta, because it would provide the industry with a major low-cost connection to export markets and world oil prices.

• Experts predict that the approval of the pipeline could lead to a 36 percent increase in tar sands exploitation.

• A pipeline that would contribute 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year for 50 years risks blowing our ability to mitigate dangerous levels of climate change, in and of itself.

• The Keystone XL pipeline is a linchpin to tar sands development, and increased tar sands development would be disastrous for the climate.

To borrow a phrase from the report, the question that climate protection demands we ask is this: if “from a climate perspective it is indefensible for the U.S. government to approve [a presidential permit for] this project, in light of the future implications it would have for accelerating the growth of one of the most polluting fuels on the planet,” is it not magnitudes more indefensible for the president to have approved the actual construction of this same project in Texas and Oklahoma? Why does the report fail to address this key point?

The dire findings of the FAIL report — that “Keystone XL is key to unlocking massive expansion of one of the world’s most carbon-intensive sources of oil, an environmental Armageddon” — cry out for its authors to demand that President Obama stop the construction of Keystone’s southern leg, before it is too late. But for the fearless resistance of local landowners, and the heroic efforts of the Tar Sands Blockade and Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, toxic tar sands might already be surging through the Keystone pipeline to Gulf Coast port refineries. In the words of one of those landowners, Michael Bishop: “You should not be swatting at flies where there is a lion outside your door.”

The FAIL report seals the deal on why President Obama must immediately reverse course and pull the plug on the construction of this 485-mile climate disaster. But this requires an environmental movement unified behind this demand.

Yes, we must also block the permit for Keystone’s northern leg, which would allow even more toxic tar sands to flow across America, but no one is going to buy that as a victory if TransCanada succeeds in getting their southern leg linchpin in place. If the climate movement fails to draw a line in the sand against Keystone XL in Texas and Oklahoma — and this tar sands nightmare is allowed to go online — we will all have flunked the climate test.

The Keystone XL Shuffle

3:58 pm in Uncategorized by Tom Weis

Cross-posted with EcoWatch

President Barack Obama supports the construction of the Keystone XL's southern leg in Texas and Oklahoma.

For the past year, most blog posts, action alerts and appeals to “Stop Keystone XL,” “Reject Keystone XL,” “Fight Keystone XL” and “Resist Keystone XL” have focused on blocking the pipeline’s northern leg, while ignoring President Obama’s support for the 485-mile southern segment. During this time, TransCanada has been busy building that southern leg, which is now 75 percent constructed.

This should alarm every climate activist. As Mark Karlin, editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout, warned in a recent editorial, when the Obama administration endorsed Keystone XL’s southern leg, “the spigot was opened to transport the climate-killing tar sands oil to refineries and ports in Texas.”

His editorial goes on to say: “What most U.S. citizens don’t know—including most progressives—is that when the southern pipeline segment starts flowing with tar sands oil in a short while, the fuse will have already ignited the (carbon) bomb.” Given that we just passed 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it is time for every big national environmental group to demand that President Obama extinguish this 485-mile carbon bomb fuse, before it’s too late.

As someone who pedaled the entire route in 2011 in support of farmers, ranchers and tribal communities fighting this toxic tar sands pipeline, I am as committed as anyone to blocking TransCanada’s northern leg permit, but how can anyone seriously talk about stopping Keystone XL without mentioning the need to stop the actual construction now dangerously close to completion in Texas and Oklahoma?

The key to blocking Keystone XL’s northern leg is ensuring that Keystone XL’s southern leg never gets completed. If you agree, join me, and more than 5,000 others, in signing the “Tell President Obama to Stop Construction of the Southern Leg of Keystone XL” petition. We will be delivering the petition to the White House soon, in dramatic fashion.

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