On April 22, more than one million comments opposing the Keystone XL pipeline were delivered to the State Department. The EPA weighed in too. In its review of the State Department draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), the EPA identified “significant environmental impacts” and noted that full assessment of these impacts was not possible due to insufficient information.
One of the missing pieces of information is an estimate of the damage – translated into dollars – that Keystone XL’s climate pollution would do to health, property, agriculture, ecosystem services, and more.
Raymond Ladouceur remembers when he could dip a cup into the Athabasca River for a drink. He remembers when the trout and muskrats were plentiful -- and when his community was healthy.
Despite recent heart surgery, Ladouceur, 72, still fishes and traps, as he has his whole life at Big Point in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. He snared his first fox at age 6 and recalled waddling home with the animal around his neck, its body dragging between his legs.
But times have changed, said Ladouceur, an elder with the Métis Canadian aboriginal people.
"Now, you can't drink water from the river. It's too dangerous," Ladouceur told The Huffington Post, taking a break from chopping wood. "We're seeing deformed fish, which I'd never seen in my whole entire years. And something in that water is killing the muskrats."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2013, 5:41 PM
CONTACT: National Wildlife Federation
Miles Grant, National Wildlife Federation, GrantM@NWF.org, 703-864-9599
NWF: State Dept. Keystone XL Analysis Fatally Flawed
WASHINGTON - March 1 - The U.S. State Department, which is overseeing the permit application for TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline issued a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) today. The SEIS release wraps up another stage of the highly controversial environmental review and kicks off a round of public comment that will eventually lead to a final decision from President Obama within several months. National Wildlife Federation has several major concerns with the analysis, but most objectionable is the claim that “approval or denial of the proposed Project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands.”
Jim Lyon, vice president for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation, said today:
“This analysis fails in its review of climate impacts, threats to endangered wildlife like whooping cranes and woodland caribou, and the concerns of tribal communities. If Keystone XL wouldn’t speed tar sands development, why are oil companies pouring millions into lobbying and political contributions to build it? By rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, President Obama can keep billions of tons of climate-disrupting carbon pollution locked safely in the ground.
“Canadian tar sands exports are blocked to the west by tribes that won’t sell out their natural resources to Big Oil, and blocked to the east by the European Union’s declaration that it won’t buy dirty tar sands oil. Without access to major U.S. export terminals from Keystone XL and other routes, tar sands production will be substantially slowed.
“President Obama should put his commitment to confront climate change above Canada's desire to cash in on polluting tar sands. Keystone XL would force America’s wildlife and communities to accept all the risk of oil spills, contaminated water supplies, and climate-fueled extreme weather like superstorm Sandy, and to what reward? Higher Midwest gas prices and just 20 permanent jobs.”
The National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.
To help inform the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline, this backgrounder features new analysis showing that producing enough bitumen to fill the Keystone XL pipeline would lead to a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and inhibit Canada’s ability to meet its climate targets.
With Climate Reality at the forefront, nearly 100 groups joined forces in signing a letter to President Obama detailing three important ways in which he and his administration can lead on climate change. They called for President Obama to lead in his second term by:
- Following through on his commitment to lead a national conversation about the reality of the climate crisis and its solutions.
- Moving forward on issuing the EPA regulations that will set the first-ever limits on carbon pollution emissions from new and existing power plants.
- Continuing to develop new clean energy sources, and reject the building of new dirty energy sources like the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
As a direct action blockade of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline continues in Texas, we look at what could be the first actual tar sands and oil shale strip-mining operation in the United States. Not far from Moab, Utah, the state has already leased land to a Canadian energy development company that recently changed its name to U.S. Oil Sands. The company plans to mine nearly 6,000 acres in an area of unspoiled wilderness that is also the watershed of the Colorado River, which provides water to more than 30 million people. The mine itself would be water-intensive in what is already the second-driest state in the country, and activists say chemicals used in the mine could pollute the water that is left. We’re joined by two activists working to block the project: John Weisheit, longtime conservation director of Living Rivers & Colorado Riverkeeper; and Ashley Anderson, founder and director of Before It Starts, which is leading the fight to stop tar sands drilling in Utah.
- John Weisheit, conservation director of Living Rivers & Colorado Riverkeeper.
- Ashley Anderson, founder and director of Before It Starts, which is leading the fight to stop tar sands drilling in Utah. He is also the co-founder and former director of Peaceful Uprisings, which he began with activist Tim DeChristopher.
In July 2010, an underground oil pipeline ruptured in southwestern Michigan. By the time workers were able to stanch the flow, over a million gallons of tar sands crude had flowed from the pipeline and into the Kalamazoo River, creating what state officials called the most destructive oil spill in Midwestern history. As OnEarth editor-at-large Ted Genoways reported in April in his three-part "The Whistleblower" series, the waterways near the towns of Marshall and Battle Creek remain fouled with crude oil to this day.
Yesterday, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) finally brought judgment against Enbridge, the Canadian energy transportation company that owned the pipeline, for the negligence that led to the spill. The agency leveled a record-setting $3.7 million fine for the company's many violations, which included its failure to maintain the integrity of Pipeline 6b. As Genoways wrote this spring, a 2007 inspection had revealed hundreds of "anomalies" in the pipeline, places where the metal had been dangerously eroded; yet the vast majority of these potential trouble spots were never repaired. After the pipeline ruptured, its operators misinterpreted alarms and continued pumping oil, leading to further spillage. Enbridge didn't even send a technician to check on the pipeline until nearly 10 a.m. the next day, more than 12 hours after nearby residents first reported smelling oil.
The Enbridge disaster is significant not only for the quantity of oil spilled, but for the variety: a heavy, viscous form of tar sands-derived crude called DilBit.
The U.S. Department of State has received a new application from TransCanada -- the company behind the controversial Keystone XL project -- to ship crude oil via a proposed pipeline running from the Canadian border to existing infrastructure in Nebraska. TransCanada had its initial application rejected by the Obama administration in January. The reapplication to the U.S. State Department on Friday calls to reroute the pipeline around the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills Region of Nebraska -- adding miles onto the project. Despite the new route, some in Nebraska still oppose the plan. The pipeline is causing other problems as lawmakers debate a multi-year surface transportation plan -- the first one since 2005.
If approved, construction on the pipeline could happen in early 2013, with oil flowing as soon as 2014, according to The Canadian Press.
That same day, the Obama administration issued a proposed rule requiring companies drilling for natural gas on federal and tribal lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. While the rules also set standards for proper construction of wells and wastewater disposal, disclosure of the chemicals used in the "fracking" process would not have to be reported until after work is complete. The regulations, which could go into effect by the end of the year, spurred debate among environmentalists, industry and lawmakers--with some saying the rules didn't go far enough. Others highlighted the "toughest" provisions, which require tests of wells' physical integrity and expand the scope of water protected from drilling -- but pointed out the rules "only apply to a sliver of the nation's natural gas supply."
Gas prices have continued a steady decline the last five weeks, causing the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to revise forecasts for the summer -- predicting motorists will spend $10.7 billion less than previously estimated.