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For Immediate Release, February 7, 2012

Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495   

House Committee Approves Disastrous Keystone XL Pipeline

Amendment Requiring Oil to Be Sold Domestically Fails,
Republican Lawmakers Admit Dirty Tar Sands Oil Would Be Sold on Global Market

WASHINGTON— The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation today that would force the issuance of a permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline within 30 days, reversing President Barack Obama’s rejection of the controversial project. The legislation is expected to be incorporated into larger energy and transportation legislation and could see a vote on the House floor next week. An amendment that would have required the oil to remain in the United States, proposed by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), failed.  

“This legislation forcing approval of the Keystone XL pipeline isn’t about jobs or national security,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Instead, it’s about the corrupting influence of money in Congress and the willingness of congressional Republicans to do the bidding of Big Oil. If it’s built, Keystone XL will foul our land, air, and water and put us on a dangerous trajectory toward climate catastrophe.”

The Keystone XL pipeline would transport dirty tar-sands oil from Canada across 1,700 miles, six states and hundreds of water bodies, posing an unacceptable risk of oil spills. An existing pipeline called Keystone 1 has already leaked 14 times since it started operating in June 2010, including one spill that gushed 21,000 gallons of tar-sands crude. The new pipeline would directly threaten at least 20 imperiled species, including whooping cranes.

The extraction and refinement of tar-sands oil produces two to three times more greenhouse gases per barrel than does conventional oil, representing a massive new source of fossil fuels that leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has said will call “game over” in our efforts to avoid irreversible global-warming calamity. Strip mining of oil from Alberta’s tar sands is also destroying tens of thousands of acres of boreal forest and polluting hundreds of millions of gallons of water from the Athabasca River, in the process creating toxic ponds so large they can be seen from space.

“Keystone XL would be an environmental disaster and create few permanent jobs in the process,” Greenwald said. “Instead, much of the oil would be exported, and the United States would be left with oil spills, polluted landscapes and a deeper dependence on fossil fuels.”

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