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For Immediate Release, February 14, 2012

Contact:         Noah Greenwald, (503) 494-7495

More Than 793,000 People Call on Congress to Reject Climate-killing Keystone XL

TUCSON, Ariz.— Over the course of only 24 hours, more than 793,000 people from around the country sent a powerful message to Congress: Don’t build the Keystone XL pipeline. The Center for Biological Diversity joined more than 40 other environmental groups, led by, on Monday and Tuesday to galvanize public opposition to the project. More than 24,700 messages opposing Keystone XL came from the Center’s supporters.

“Americans want clean energy and a clean environment, not a pipeline that spills oil and pushes us closer to the brink of climate catastrophe,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director with the Center. “More than a half-million people today are calling on Congress to reject Keystone XL and reject the oil-industry money and influence that has plagued our system for too long.”

President Barack Obama rejected the pipeline in January, but now Republicans in the Senate are pushing legislative language requiring the project to be permitted in 30 days. A vote on that language could happen this week.

Time and again, Americans have opposed Keystone XL. More than 1,000 peaceful protesters were arrested last summer; some 12,000 people encircled the White House last fall. The petitions collected this week in just 24 hours are the latest evidence of widespread and passionate public opposition to the project. The signatures will be hand-delivered to Congress later today.

“People across the country understand the dangers of Keystone XL, and simply want it stopped,” Greenwald said. “Never has there been a clearer example of the corrupting influence of money in politics than this push by congressional Republicans to force approval of the pipeline at the bidding of Big Oil — directly against the will of the American people.”  

Every day, the Keystone XL pipeline would transport up to 35 million gallons of dirty tar-sands oil from Canada across 1,700 miles, six states and hundreds of water bodies, posing a huge 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 rare and endangered 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 mean “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.

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