Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 18, 2014

Contact: Bill Snape, (202) 536-9351,

Senate Rejects Construction of Devastating Keystone XL Pipeline

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Senate today rejected a bill requiring the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline, which would transport tar sands oil from Canada to Texas, would worsen the climate crisis and put rivers, streams, wildlife and pristine landscapes directly in harm’s way.

“This vote offers a glimmer of hope that there’s some sanity left in the Senate,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Still, it’s really disturbing that the vote got this far. Keystone XL would be a disaster for our climate, environment and wildlife — we’ve got no business giving it serious consideration, especially for what it’ll do to the climate.”

The ultimate decision now rests with President Obama, who has said he won’t approve Keystone XL if it significantly exacerbates the problem of carbon pollution.

“It’s time for President Obama to live up to his word,” Snape said. “The president has to decide which side of history he’ll be on: the one that embraces fossil fuels that drove us into this climate crisis or the one that begins to get us out of this mess. It isn’t just symbolism at play here. This decision will have real and lasting consequences for years to come.”

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would, every day, carry up to 35 million gallons of oil strip-mined from Canada’s “tar sands” — some of the dirtiest fuels on the planet. The pipeline would cross the heart of the Midwest and deliver oil to the Gulf of Mexico, where much of it would be exported to other countries. Along the way the pipeline would cut through rivers, streams and prime wildlife habitat for at least 12 threatened and endangered species, including whooping cranes and pallid sturgeon.

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.

Extraction and refinement of tar sands oil produces twice as many greenhouse gases per barrel than conventional oil and represents a massive new source of fossil fuels that leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has called “game over” for our ability to avoid a climate catastrophe.

TransCanada’s existing Keystone I tar sands pipeline has reportedly leaked at least 14 times since it went into operation in June 2010, including one spill of 24,000 gallons. The State Department’s environmental reviews have pointed out that spills from Keystone XL are likely to occur, estimating that there could be as many as about 100 spills over the course of the pipeline’s lifespan.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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