The Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL) is not just another pipeline. The world’s leading climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, has said that if KXL is built, it is “game over for the climate”. Why such strong language?
Here are a few of the facts:
- KXL will carry 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day from Alberta, Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.
- Tar sands is the dirtiest fossil fuel known — dirtier than coal because it is very carbon rich.
- Burning tar sands oil produces more CO2 than a comparable amount of conventional oil.
- If we burn the tar sands oil that will be transported through KXL, approximately 150 ppm of CO2 will be added to the atmosphere. This is more CO2 than has been emitted from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to today.
- Atmospheric CO2 concentration is already well beyond the danger threshold of 350 ppm (currently at ~410 ppm).
There is a strong consensus among climate scientists that we must not only stop increasing CO2 concentration, but we must begin a steep decline no later than 2017-2020 if we are going to keep global warming below 2° C. This is the target set at Paris in 2015.
- Burning tar sands oil will end our chances of averting catastrophic climate change. Keystone must be stopped.
In addition to the impacts on climate change, there are many social justice and environmental reasons to stop KXL.
- Most tar sands are “harvested” by open pit mining, which has already destroyed several hundred square miles of Canadian boreal forest, a critical global habitat.
- Extraction requires enormous amounts of energy as well as vast quantities of water. The latter is expelled into gigantic retaining ponds.
- These retaining ponds leak toxic chemicals into rivers and groundwater, poisoning the water supplies of First Nations (Native Americans) and ruining the ecosystems that sustain their people.
- First Nations have never given their assent to tar sands extraction or its byproducts.
- Tar sands oil is highly corrosive, greatly increasing the likelihood of oil pipeline spills.
- According to the EPA, US oil pipelines average 320 major spills per year — nearly one per day. KXL will increase that rate.
- KXL crosses at least seven major rivers and the Ogallala aquifer, jeopardizing the water supply for tens of millions of Americans.
- The pipeline crosses or comes perilously close to several Native American lands, threatening their health, ruining their lands, and desecrating their sacred sites
How can we stop this catastrophe?
The last critical piece of KXL runs across the state of Nebraska which has not yet issued the necessary construction permits that would allow completion of the pipeline. This gives us a clear opportunity to influence and stop the completion.
The Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC), a panel of five (5) people, will decide whether or not to issue the permits. The PSC will hold public hearings in Lincoln from August 7-11, 2017. 350 Austin is participating in the campaign to stop KXL by supporting BOLD Nebraska, a broad coalition of Native American tribes, landowners, climate activists, water protectors, and environmentalists. BOLD Nebraska is organizing a “Give Keystone XL the Boot” parade in Lincoln on August 6.