Bill to Force Keystone Approval a Giveaway to Oil Companies

"This bill is nothing more than an effort to run roughshod over protections for landowners, wildlife and drinking water supplies"

05-22-2013 // Peter LaFontaine
Tar Sands development in Alberta, Canada

The U.S. House is set to vote this week on a bill by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) to shut down the review process and public comment, override protections for clean air and water, and force approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Despite more than 1 million comments from Americans asking the State Department to say no to Keystone XL, the bill is expected to pass by a wide margin.

“It’s the wrong approach to put a foreign energy company ahead of more than 1 million Americans who have expressed concern for our nation’s wildlife, energy security and public health,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “This bill is nothing more than an effort to run roughshod over protections for landowners, wildlife and drinking water supplies so that TransCanada can get oil to Gulf coast refineries for export to China and other countries.”

The Northern Plains isn’t the only region threatened by reckless tar sands pipeline expansion:

  • In 2010, an Enbridge pipeline ruptured in Michigan, spilling a million gallons of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River. Three years and more than $1 million later, the cleanup continues. Enbridge is laying the groundwork for pipeline expansions that would dwarf Keystone XL and put the Great Lakes watershed in danger of another spill.
  • Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline, reversed to carry tar sands oil, spilled into an Arkansas neighborhood in March, forcing dozens from their homes and oiling hundreds of animals including birds and turtles.
  • Exxon and Enbridge want to reverse a pipeline through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to carry tar sands oil to the international market.

A coalition of landowners, former and current government officials, environmental, renewable energy and sportsmen’s groups is petitioning the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop stronger safety standards for tar sands oil pipelines.

“Want to see firsthand what happens when you trust safety promises about tar sands oil? Come to Michigan,” said Beth Wallace, community outreach coordinator in NWF’s Great Lakes Regional Center. “If Congress passes this bill, what’s to stop it from forcing approval of any given project in your community before regulators can properly investigate it and without any say from citizens?”

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