An open letter to Secretary Clinton: KO Keystone XL

This is an Administration that promotes clean energy alternatives and better fuel efficiency?

U.S. Capitol
Published: Oct 11, 2011
New York NY - 
Since last fall, a steady stream of damning evidence about questionable relationships, lobbying practices and political bias have been flowing from the Keystone XL pipeline process. This weekend's outrageous revelation that TransCanada supervised the environmental review has poisoned the process beyond repair.

It's time to KO Keystone XL. It is irreversibly polluted.

Dozens of emails between State Department employees and the chief lobbyist for the company behind the pipeline, TransCanada, reveal a cozy and solicitous relationship.

An earlier 2009 cable obtained by Wiki leaks found another State Department higher-up was caught advising Canadian officials on how to spin their message to win favorable media coverage of Canadian crude.

These murky relationships and end-runs around science were hallmarks of previous administrations that disdained science. Has the Obama administration signed on as well? It may not have been your intent, but the State Department looks like just another agency on a mission to protect Big Oil.

The pipeline itself represents what would be an environmental disaster of epic proportions. The pipeline would send the world's dirtiest oil - from Canada's tar sands - over 1,700 miles through farms, over ranches, and across towns. It would run directly through the Ogallala Aquifer - the source of drinking water for 2 million people - and across nearly 2,000 rivers, streams and other water bodies. The risk of major oil spills and chronic contamination of drinking water is real. Look what happened in the Kalamazoo River last summer. Is this is an Obama Administration priority?

For climate change, the news is even worse. One of the world's foremost climate experts, NASA's James Hansen, calls it "essentially game over" for the climate if we allow Alberta Tar Sands to be developed.

Last year, we all saw both the hottest year on record and the greatest amount of global warming pollution in history. Extreme weather events are taking place around the world.

This is an Administration that promotes clean energy alternatives and better fuel efficiency. Or does it?

Approving XL is like sanctioning a drug cartel to fuel future oil addiction...and making today's oil just a gateway drug to the nasty bitumen from tar sands. And like a drug cartel, there will be violence, in this case to our reservoirs, rivers, and streams.

To be sure, policies to reduce climate risk and a transition to clean energy are challenging with our current partisan politics. But does the State Department want its first major environmental decision to be locking-in more co2 emissions and putting more of our precious fresh water at risk?"

The Keystone XL pipeline will pollute -- just as the Trans-Alaska pipeline has. And the first victim is the reputation of the State Department and this Administration. It's time for the State Department to restart the process. It's all just gotten too oily.

David Yarnold

President & CEO, Audubon

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The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

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