Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 21, 2014

Contact: Marc Fink, (218) 464-0539

Obama Administration Stealthily OKs Expansion of Tar Sands Transport Through Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.— With no public input, the Obama administration has abruptly approved a scheme by Canadian tar sands giant Enbridge to sidestep the “presidential permit” and environmental review process for expanding its Alberta Clipper tar sands pipeline. Enbridge had applied to double the capacity of the pipeline, also known as Line 67, that will put it on par with the amount of oil proposed for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

The State Department previously told Enbridge that it cannot increase the amount of tar sands oil coming into the United States through the Alberta Clipper pipeline without first obtaining a presidential permit, and after the completion of a public process and environmental review.  Thousands of concerned citizens have been involved in the public process that remains ongoing.

The new scheme, approved in July by the State Department but only recently revealed, allows Enbridge to increase the flow of tar sands oil coming into the United States by simply switching flows on pipelines where the oil crosses the border. Enbridge will transfer the oil from the Alberta Clipper line over to existing Line 3, just north of the border, and then tie back into the Alberta Clipper line once it’s in the United States.  Enbridge’s sole purpose is to move additional tar sands oil across the border while it awaits a decision on its pending expansion application with the State Department. 

“When it comes to the climate crisis, President Obama’s central purpose ought to be ‘do no harm.’ The administration’s approval of this Alberta Clipper scheme certainly violates that doctrine,” said Marc Fink, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Tar sands oil is one of the most polluting fuels on Earth, so it’s really troubling to see the Obama administration embracing it in a way that allows it to expand on such a massive scale.”

Groups opposed to tar sands expansion are currently evaluating their options to stop this scheme from moving forward until the regulators and the public have had adequate time to evaluate the environmental consequences of this project.

“We’ll continue to fight this Alberta Clipper project but there’s a larger context too: Whether it’s Alberta Clipper, Keystone, off-shore drilling or fracking, the Obama administration has a moral obligation to steer us clear of this rapidly unfolding climate crisis,” Fink said. “President Obama said he wouldn’t approve Keystone XL if it significantly exacerbates the problem of carbon pollution. He must hold the same standard when it comes to the Alberta Clipper.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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