Keystone XL Delayed, But Big Oil’s Scheming Goes On

President Obama gave Americans an early present for the holidays last week when he delayed his decision on Keystone XL, the mammoth oil pipeline that would stretch halfway across North America.

Citing environmental concerns and the potential impacts to Americans’ health and safety, Obama told the State Department to take a closer look at the project, which has been blasted by Midwestern landowners, native tribes, conservationists and others around the country.

Making Nebraskans Pay?

Now, just days later, a Nebraska congressman has teamed up with TransCanada Corporation to speed up the process – and Nebraskans would foot the bill.

Wildlife like these Sandhill Cranes are at risk from pipeline spills and construction (Photo: Len Radin)

Nebraska state Senator Mike Flood, who introduced the legislation Monday, said it’s up to Nebraskans to cover the cost of a new review. “This is our land. These are our people. We will pay for this. It’s the right thing to do,” Flood said.

It’s quite the turnaround for the good folks at TransCanada, who had obstinately refused to re-route their pipeline away from the state’s fragile Sandhills ecosystem and the Ogallala aquifer. But the payoff is obvious: instead of waiting 12-18 months for the federal government to complete a thorough analysis, now they hope the project could get hustled through the back door in as little as six months. Not a bad deal, huh?

Hold your horses! The State Department says we don’t have to worry:

“Any new proposed routes will be subject to the thorough, rigorous and transparent review process we have undertaken throughout,” deputy spokesman Mark Toner said late Monday.

Protesters carry an inflatable Keystone Xl pipeline around the White House during the Nov. 6th rally. (Photo: Marine Jaouen)

He might want to go back and check his facts, because the State Department has been one of Keystone’s biggest cheerleaders. “Thorough, rigorous and transparent” is the exact opposite of how the review went down, and we need this decision taken out of their hands and handled by an agency with a lot fewer skeletons in the closet.

Consider this: the State Department didn’t even factor in carbon pollution during their analysis, even though NASA’s top climatologist, James Hansen, says developing Canada’s tar sands spells “Game Over” for the fight against climate change. Add that to a long list of shady dealings (like the fact that the company that conducted KXL’s environmental review listed TransCanada as a “major client”) and it’s obvious we need a change of juries.

So what does all this mean? First off, it proves, once again, that you can’t trust Big Oil to tell the truth. And it also means that we have to be vigilant to ensure that this project gets the scrutiny it deserves.

Keep Up the Fight

Last week was a big victory, but the fight isn’t over. Already, other companies are proposing new pipelines to exploit Canada’s tar sands, and the last time I checked, those won’t be any greener or more wildlife-friendly than the Keystone XL proposal.

But we’ve proven that our voices count – your protests brought a filthy, $7 billion project to a screeching halt – and in this era of corporate domination that’s pretty impressive.

Let’s keep it up.


Take Action You can help protect Canada’s boreal forest and prevent the spread of tar sands development by making a donation through NWF’s Choose Your Cause program.