WASHINGTON, DC — “President Obama is standing at a crossroads right now. He can say no to the Keystone XL pipeline and prove that his administration is serious about reducing production and consumption of fossil fuels. Or he can satisfy Big Oil and major investors by okaying the pipeline’s conveyance of dirty, dangerous tar-sands crude oil from Canada across the U.S.,” said Darryl! L.C. Moch, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.
Green Party leaders called the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, released last week, a troubling sign that the President might approve the pipeline soon.
The Green Party has strongly opposed the pipeline and is urging the Secretary of State John Kerry and the State Dept., as well as other agencies, to reject it. (The State Dept.’s 90-day National Interest Determination is now underway.)
“The goal of domestic ‘energy independence’ is a distraction from the real goal — ending subsidies for fossil fuels and averting a global climate catastrophe in the coming decades,” said Kate Culver, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.
“The bipartisan rhetoric of energy dependence proves that Democrats and Republicans are too beholden to corporate contributions and lobbyists’ influence to effectively deal with the climate crisis. This is why we call the Green Party an imperative for the 21st century,” added Audrey Clement, co-chair of the Green Party’s Eco-Action Committee (http://www.gp.org/index.php/ecoaction-committee.html).
Greens said that development of the tar-sands oil fields in Alberta, Canada, was one of several energy-industry projects that must be halted. Others include fracking, mountaintop detonation mining, offshore drilling in U.S. coastal waters, and “clean coal.” The Elk River chemical spill on Jan. 9, which left 300,000 West Virginians without drinkable or usable water, proved “clean coal” to be a public-relations myth. The spilled chemical was a foam used to wash coal and remove polluting impurities.
Recent spills are irrefutable proof that pipeline safety cannot be guaranteed. Recent examples include the July 2011 ExxonMobil pipeline rupture that dumped 63,000 gallons of Canadian crude oil into the Yellowstone River and the March 2013 ExxonMobil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, involving the rupture of a pipeline carrying Canadian crude oil.
Even if it were possible to transport Canadian tar-sand bitumen without catastrophic accidents and spills, extraction and refinement consumes more energy than the bitumen ultimately yields, releasing significantly more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than petroleum.
According to the State Dept. report, “Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States.” The report said that rail transportation would bring the crude oil into the U.S. if the pipeline is delayed or canceled.
Greens said that weak, defective, and outdated railcars also pose a danger, citing the derailment of tank cars carrying crude oil in July, 2013, which caused a explosion that killed 47 people in Lac Megantic, Quebec.
These dangers and the threat of toxicity have motivated intense Native Nations opposition to the pipeline, which would place the Oglala Aquifer at risk; see “No Keystone XL Pipeline Will Cross Lakota Lands,” a joint statement from Honor the Earth, the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred, Feb. 2, 2014 (http://lastrealindians.com/for-immediate-release-no-keystone-xl-pipeline-will-cross-lakota-lands).
Greens further noted that the Keystone XL (XL for “Export Limited”) pipeline’s destination at major shipping ports in the Gulf of Mexico indicates that the primary purpose of the pipeline is to make Canadian oil available to foreign markets, enriching oil companies. (See “Pipe Dreams?”, Cornell University Global Labor Institute,http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/globallaborinstitute/research/upload/GLI_KeystoneXL_Reportpdf.pdf)
Green Party leaders pointed to the conflict of interest in the State Dept.’s Environmental Impact Statement: several employees of Environmental Resources Management, the firm contracted to help prepare the statement, have ties to TransCanada, the firm which will construct the pipeline (“State Dept. Hid Contractor’s Ties to Keystone XL Pipeline Company” by Andy Kroll, Mother Jones, March 21, 2013, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/03/keystone-xl-contractor-ties-transcanada-state-department).
The Green Party supports conversion of all U.S. power plants to 100% clean carbon-free, nuclear-free energy instead of proposed EPA rules that initially only affect new plants and rely on the unproven viability of carbon capture and sequestration. Green candidates have advocated the Green New Deal, a detailed plan to jumpstart the economy by creating millions of new jobs in conservation, new technologies, retro-fitting of homes and buildings, expansion of public transportation to reduce car traffic, and other projects to curb the advance of climate change (http://www.jillstein.org/green_new_deal).