Attorneys General Letter Shows Case For Keystone XL Is Crumbling

It’s been a cruel summer for supporters of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. First, President Obama pledged to connect his decision on Keystone XL to its climate-disrupting carbon pollution, making rejection a must. Then, the State Department’s already-controversial environmental review was hit with allegations of bias.

And now, a letter (PDF) from state attorneys general to Secretary of State John Kerry in support of the pipeline has shown just how much Keystone XL’s base of support has shriveled in the summer heat:

  • A majority of attorneys general decline to sign. Only 21 of 50 state attorneys general signed the letter, many from fossil fuel-producing states. The attorneys general of Nebraska and Texas, two key states on the pipeline route, are conspicuously absent. (I’m not sure why – you’d have to ask them.)
  • How many jobs? They don’t know. The attorneys general completely give up on making any specific jobs promises, just saying it will create “thousands” of short-term jobs and “untold long-term employment.” Multiple independent studies have come to the same conclusion: Keystone would create a few thousand short-term jobs and only a few dozen long-term jobs. A much better job creator: President Obama’s plan to act on climate change and invest in American-made clean energy.
  • Giving up the ghost on gas prices. The letter does not so much as mention gas prices. At all. That’s a huge deal. Keystone XL would actually raise gas prices for American families – even pipeline builder TransCanada admits the whole reason it wants to build Keystone XL to get a higher price for its tar sands oil on the international market. But Keystone XL supporters have long claimed with a wink and a nod that because Canada is an ally, they’ll somehow give us friend prices. That’s apparently out the window.
  • Don’t say climate change. The attorneys general do NOT want to talk about Keystone XL’s massive impacts on climate change, or how warming temperatures are killing wildlife and intensifying wildfires in their home states. But maybe you’d like to talk about how Canada has an extremely sketchy plan to answer President Obama’s climate challenge! How? Uh … algae … and a lot of ads telling you how Canada cares about wildlife … and BOOM, problem solved!
  • Backers motivated by polluter politics, not sound energy policy. The signers have a strong partisan bent – of the 21 signers, just one is a Democrat (Missouri’s Chris Koster). The attorneys general of Indiana, Michigan and Ohio signed on even though their states would be among the hardest-hit by the higher gas prices Keystone XL would bring. (Currently, tar sands producers have to dump their product in the Midwest at a discount.) The letter only claims Keystone XL would improve the “economy of the entire midsection of this nation,” raising a serious question as to why the state attorneys general of Alaska, Florida and Virginia signed on. Are they looking out for the best interests of their state, or hoping to curry favor with big money polluters?

Not coincidentally, 21 was also how few attorneys general supporters were able to get to sign on to a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency urging it to slow-walk limits on industrial carbon pollution. Like I said, this summer’s had some serious dog days for polluters and their allies.

Take Action ButtonTar sands and healthy wildlife don’t mix. Ask President Obama to say no to Keystone XL.