Friday, June 25, 2010

50 members of Congress ask State's Clinton to delay Keystone XL approval

WASHINGTON - In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, some 50 members of the U.S. House of Representatives said the agency "must determine whether the project is in the national interest" in terms of "clean energy and climate change priorities" before rubber-stamping it.
As of June 23, the letter had been signed by 50 members of the House, many of whom sit on the Energy and Commerce, Natural Resources and Transportation and Infrastructure committees. All are Democrats.
Tar sands mining emits three times more greenhouse gas pollution than traditional oil, the letter stated.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), one of the lead signatories, further said the pipeline, which is slated to pass over the nation's largest underground aquifer, would leave "irreparable" environmental scars in its wake.
"This poses a direct threat to America’s heartland," Cohen told reporters. "It cuts through sensitive ecosystems, crosses rivers, invades ranches and farms and could scar this land forever."
On a conference call with reporters on June 23, Rep. Cohen asked jokingly whether "XL" stands for "extra long" or "extra-large."
"Right now we don't need to be doing extra long or extra large pipelines, particularly with what we've seen in the Gulf," said the Tennessee politician, referring to the ongoing BP oil spill off the Louisiana coast.
"As oil continues to pour into the Gulf, we should take a step back and reconsider the wisdom of trusting these oil companies out to make a profit and with no thoughts of anything but oil, oil, oil.
TransCanada, which is building the Keystone and Keystone XL pipelines to transport tar sands bitumen to U.S. refineries, has been pressing for presidential approval of the $12 billion Keystone XL Pipeline, which would export up to 900,000 b/d and double U.S. consumption of the controversial fuel source.
Two other pipelines have already been okayed by the State Department - Keystone , which will eventually carry crude to Cushing, Okla., and the Alberta Clipper, that runs from Canada to Superior, Wis.
If all three get built, tar sands would make up 15 percent of U.S. fuel supply, up from four percent today.
Turning tar sands into usable oil involves mining bitumen, a tar-like petroleum that's buried beneath the boreal forests in Alberta. Extraction requires substantial energy and water and creates sprawling tailing ponds that some analysts estimate are leaking three million gallons of contaminated waste into the ground each day, endangering wildlife and perhaps public health.

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