Friends of the Earth Action strongly opposes and works to halt the approval of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, which would further tap the carbon-intensive tar sands oil in Alberta, Canada, and help sink the United States into fossil fuels dependence. The process of mining, refining and shipping oil from the tar sands produces three times as much carbon as conventional crude oil. Additionally, the tar sands mines use massive amounts of water — most of which end up in toxic tailings ponds — and destroys immense areas of boreal forest. Since the pipeline crosses an international border, it is currently under review from the State Department.
Pollution from tar sands oil greatly eclipses that of conventional oil. During tar sands oil production alone, levels of carbon dioxide emissions are three times higher than those of conventional oil, due to more energy-intensive extraction and refining processes. The Keystone XL pipeline would carry 900,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil into the United States daily, doubling our country’s reliance on it and resulting in climate-damaging emissions equal to adding more than six million new cars to U.S. roads.
The process of mining tar sands and converting it into conventional oil is massively destructive, and involves the clear-cutting of boreal forests, contamination of water resources and the endangerment of the health of indigenous Canadians. To make matters worse, TransCanada’s Keystone I pipeline already has an abysmal track record on spills. Experts warn that the more acidic and corrosive consistency of the type of tar sands oil being piped into the U.S. makes spills more likely, and have joined the EPA in calling on the State Department to conduct a thorough study of these risks.
After more than two years of active campaigning by Friends of the Earth and a broad coalition of allies, President Obama rejected the permit for this massive, cross-country tar sands oil pipeline. After this rejection, TransCanada announced that it would split the pipeline into two segments: a northern, transborder segment from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska and a southern segment from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast of Texas. The northern section, which crosses the U.S.-Canadian border, remains under review from the State Department.
No matter how TransCanada tries to slice and dice its pipeline to evade meaningful review, the dirty reality remains that the Keystone XL pipeline would be an environmental disaster.