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Why PSR Opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline

Oil combustion always involves some health and environmental costs.  But tar sands oil is far worse than conventional oil.  Here’s why: 

The pipeline poses grave dangers to America’s vital water resources.

  • Tar sands oil is thicker, more acidic and more corrosive than conventional crude.  Transported under high pressure, it poses a far greater risk of leaks along the pipeline route.
  • Tar sands oil pipelines are already leaking and causing serious contamination. 
    • Over the past five years, pipelines in Midwestern states with the longest history of moving Canadian tar sands have spilled three times as much crude per pipeline mile as the national average.
    • The Keystone I tar sands pipeline was predicted to spill 1.4 times per decade, yet it spilled fourteen times in its first year of operation.
    • In 2010, an older pipeline system spilled more than 800,000 gallons of tar sands oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River, causing health effects in a majority of Calhoun County residents living adjacent to the river. At a cost of over $725 million, this spill was the most expensive U.S. pipeline accident on record.
  • In addition to surface waters, the Keystone XL pipeline threatens vast underground water supplies that, once contaminated, cannot be cleaned.  There’s no “away” where toxic oil can go once it enters an aquifer. 

It’s the most carbon-intensive source of oil on the planet.

  • The production process alone generates three times as much global warming pollution as conventional crude oil.
  • The extraction of tar sands oil is destroying important forest lands that act as a carbon reservoir, further contributing to climate change.  
  • The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would contribute an additional 27 million metric tons of CO2 annually – or the same amount of global warming pollution created by adding 4.8 million vehicles to the road.

This would accelerate the health impacts from climate change – heat waves, extreme weather, expansion of disease ranges, crop losses and more – that are already occurring.

The pipeline would do little for our energy security.

  • The main purpose of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is to make this oil available for export. Keystone XL would divert Canadian oil from refineries in the Midwest to the Gulf Coast.
  • These refineries are in Foreign Trade Zones where oil may be exported to international buyers without paying U.S. taxes.
  • Shunting oil to refineries for export will actually raise gasoline prices in the Midwest.

In short, this pipeline is not and never was in America's national interest.

Clean, healthy, renewable energy and fuel efficiency is the path forward for health and energy security in America – not another tar sands pipeline.

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In the Spotlight

  • October 15, 2016
    Boston Symposium
    A one-day Symposium to examine the catastrophic public health consequences of climate change and the ways that climate change will increase the risk of conflict, including nuclear war.