The Keystone XL pipeline project pumps oil from Canada through eight U.S. States to refineries in Illinois and Texas. While some support the building of the pipeline, others are concerned with the environmental impact such as global warming.
The Keystone XL pipeline was completed in 2014, a volume-increasing shortcut — which utilized Montana instead of North Dakota — was approved by Congress in 2015, but vetoed by President Barack Obama.
"The Presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously," Obama said in a statement. "But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety, and environment — it has earned my veto."
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Obama's reasons met with applause from the conservationists across the country. Here are 10 quotes from environmentalists:
"The Keystone XL pipeline is not in the national interest. This pipeline, which is proposed to carry Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast, is for the purpose of generating profit for a private company — it is for a private use. It will generate very few jobs, and the oil is destined for export markets." — Northern Plains Resource Council
TransCanada, the corporation operation the Keystone pipeline, said that the entire proposed new route avoids tribal lands, but the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (South Dakota) is concerned that their adjacent land could be affected by a potential spill:
"They claim 'if it leaks.' For us, it's 'when it leaks.' And it may be alright for a period of time, but when it leaks, and when it starts contaminating water, between us and the Gulf of Mexico, we're going to be hurting." — Russell Eagle Bear, a tribal historic preservation officer for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, told NBC News.
"Land is like our mother, our grandmother ... as we relate, our language talks of it as grandmother, so it's like a birthplace of our people. They say the water is the blood of grandmother. You cannot survive without water. Nobody can. We want to protect our grandmother. That's our purpose in life. It's beyond money. You cannot put dollars on our resource, our grandmother." -- Russell Eagle Bear, told NBC News.
"As is his fool-born-every-minute — PT Barnum style, Governor BS (former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer) tried to sound like he was a green energy leader, while in fact being one of the dirtiest energy governors in the country. He must think we are the fools. I say good riddance to this charlatan." — Jim Jensen, of the Montana Environmental Information Center, on Schweitzer's support of the Keystone pipeline and the Tar Sands development.
Conservation organization The Alliance for the Wild Rockies is often accused by the opposition as an uncompromising organization, while they defend themselves by claiming to simply be fighting criminal mischief. Paul Edwards, a member of the group's Board of Directors, cites the Keystone pipeline/Alberta Tar Sands project as an example:
"One good example is the Alberta Tar Sands obscenity. This incalculably destructive eco-crime has the full backing of both the Canadian and American governments, but organized opposition to it is growing every day. Meanwhile, Exxon — a major Tar Sands player and extortionist pirate — has cut a deal with Montana's Coalboy Governor (Schweitzer) and his Idaho counterpart, Oily Butch Otter, to run monstrous mega loads from the port of Lewistown on narrow Highway 12 along the federally-designated Wild and Scenic Clearwater and Lochsa Rivers. From there the route twists over serpentine Lolo Pass, goes down through Missoula and follows the Blackfoot River to the Rocky Mountain Front then up to the Alberta Tar Sands."
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A long-term project such as Keystone XL represents a renewed commitment to dirty fossil fuels when environmentalists feel governments should be seeking to discover a sustainable energy future.
Dr. James Hansen, a professor in the Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and one of the world's foremost climate scientists, disagreed with that plan. He testified at a Senate hearing in March 2014:
"If we're going to now open up that other source, unconventional fossil fuels, that's what tar sands are — the first big step into that unconventional fossil fuels. But the science tells us we can't do that," Hansen said. "We're screwing our children and grandchildren, and all the young people, and future generations if we think we can use those unconventional fossil fuels. The science is crystal clear on that. The world is just ignoring the science ... We're all on the same boat. We will either sink together or find a way to sail together."
"Denying the permit for a brutally stupid, money-grab like the Keystone XL pipeline is a no-brainer, right Mr. President?" — Julia Louis Dreyfuss, former star of Seinfeld, in a 2011 video to President Obama, according to The Huffington Post.
"This is like a Rube Goldberg machine producing global warming and other environmental catastrophes. If we're going to do anything about global warming, it's the poster child for the kind of stuff that's going to have to stay in the ground." — Environmentalist, author, and journalist Bill McKibben, told The New Yorker
on Feb. 25, 2015.
"Like many of you, I am a parent, and I am deeply concerned about the world we are leaving for our children. One lesson my wife and I try to teach our kids is the need to set goals and remain focused as you strive to achieve them. Our country has a clear, science-based goal to limit climate pollution. We must keep this in mind and recognize that achieving that goal, is incompatible with permitting this pipeline." — Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.
"When some of the biggest contributors to climate change and funders of misinformation on climate science sponsor exhibitions in museums of science and natural history, they undermine public confidence in the validity of the institutions responsible for transmitting scientific knowledge. This corporate philanthropy comes at too high a cost." — An excerpt from an open letter, dated March 25, 2015, to museums signed by 54 climate scientists.
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