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May 23rd, 2013
Grijalva Letter to Obama Urging Keystone XL Pipeline Rejection Gets More Democrats Than Voted Yesterday to Approve the Project

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today sent a letter to President Obama urging him to deny a permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The letter – co-signed by 29 Members of Congress, all Democrats – highlights the impact the pipeline would have on the environment and explains why pipeline supporters’ job creation claims are completely inaccurate.

Only 18 Democrats voted yesterday in favor of H.R. 3, a Republican-passed bill that approves the project, bypasses a customary review of environmental and health impacts, and ignores the protocol established by the National Environmental Policy Act. President Obama, citing the bill’s erosion of decades of well-established review, has issued a veto threat for H.R. 3. 

Grijalva’s letter is attached and the text is included below. A PDF is available at

“The president has to make this decision, and our letter and message are more timely than ever now that Republicans are forcing the issue,” Grijalva said. “The American people don’t support this project, and President Obama needs to know he has the backing in Congress to do the right thing and reject the proposal. We’ve made too much progress on reducing carbon emissions and improving fuel efficiency to take any more giant steps backwards.” 

Tar sands oil, which Keystone XL would carry if approved, produce 40 percent more carbon pollution than conventional oils. Supporters often point to a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) prepared by the State Department concluded that Keystone XL would not impact climate change because Albertan tar sands oil would come to market whether or not Keystone XL is approved. A thorough analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency concluded that, at the very least, full comprehension of the climate impacts requires more analysis than the State Department provided. In its analysis, EPA found that additional carbon emission from tar sands crude production could amount to 935 metric tons over the next 50 years.

“There’s no way to know if these Canadian tar sands will find another route to market if Keystone XL isn’t built,” Grijalva said. “What we do know is that tar sands production is a major source of carbon pollution and driver of climate change. Why should we be the ones to condone this activity? Why should the American people bear this burden? We have an opportunity to stop a major source of climate change, and we need to seize it.”

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline will transport Canadian tar sands crude oil through the middle of the United States, ending at Port Arthur, Texas, a major oil refinery and export hub. Many pipeline backers claim Keystone XL will decrease the price of gasoline for American consumers and provide thousands of long-term jobs. In fact, the State Department’s DSEIS found that the project will only create 35 permanent jobs, and a recent study prepared by Cornell University found that construction of the pipeline would actually siphon jobs from other, more sustainable, industries than it will create.


Dear President Obama:

We stand with millions of Americans concerned about the strength of our economy, gas prices, and the safety of our water supply in urging you to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

When you strip away the rhetoric, the facts are clear: Keystone XL will export Canadian oil through our country — not to our country. As an export pipeline, Keystone XL does not reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It does not protect American families from increasing gas prices or price spikes on the global market. The history of tar sands pipelines is full of failed promises, difficult cleanups and environmental damage. Tar sands crude is both more toxic and more difficult to clean up than conventional oil. A 2010 spill involving tar sands crude on the Kalamazoo River has still not been remedied.

The climate impacts are perhaps even greater than the immediate damage to water sources, and will be felt by every American for decades to come. The State Department’s conclusion that we might as well approve Keystone XL because the tar sands will inevitably be burned is not only untrue, it is a stunning breach of our national security. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is hardly alone in the military community in declaring that climate change “has a dramatic impact on national security.”

Keystone XL will increase global demand for tar sands, which produce far more climate-heating emissions than conventional oil. There is a better way forward, and we call on you to continue leading the way. The only way to reduce high gas prices is to use less fuel. We applaud your administration’s historic efforts to increase vehicle fuel efficiency, your investments in sustainable technologies, and your inspiring call in the State of the Union Address to fund research to move our vehicles away from oil altogether. Rejecting Keystone XL should be another part of your positive environmental legacy.

Efforts already under way are saving Americans money at the pump and creating new engineering and manufacturing jobs. Approving Keystone would put many of these advances in jeopardy. It would mean a return to the dirty economy of the past rather than a step toward the clean economy of the future.

The costs of approving Keystone XL far outweigh any benefits. The American people are depending on your leadership. This dirty pipeline is not in our national interest, and we urge you to reject it.

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