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Congressional Lawmakers Must Vote Against Proposal to Reduce Review of Proposed Pipeline, Groups Say

July 26, 2011

Congressional Lawmakers Must Vote Against Proposal to Reduce Review of Proposed Pipeline, Groups Say

The Terry-Greene Tar Sands Resolution Would Allow Hasty Decision to Be Made Regarding an Oil Pipeline Through Texas

AUSTIN (Texas) – The U.S. House of Representative should vote against a bill that would reduce the review of a proposed oil pipeline running through the Ogallala Aquifer in Texas, three organizations said today. Public Citizen, ReEnergize Texas, and the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition told the lawmakers members in a letter that the construction of this pipeline would increase gas prices and release pollutants into the air, with no benefit for Americans.

The Terry-Greene Tar Sands Resolution (H.R .1938), which is scheduled for a vote Tuesday, would expedite the approval for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, requiring a decision by Nov. 1 of this year, causing important objections to the pipeline to be overlooked.

The proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline would run from Canada through the Ogallala Aquifer in Texas to the Gulf of Mexico, where refineries would make oil available for export. The pipeline would transport the dirtiest oil in the world through America’s largest freshwater aquifer, risking a major oil spill and causing dangerous pollutants to be released into the air during the refining process, the groups said. This tar sands oil contains three to four times as much carbon, five times as much lead, six times as much nitrogen and 11 times as much sulfur as is found in conventional crude oil.

A spill from the proposed pipeline would be devastating because the Ogallala Aquifer supplies water to approximately a quarter of the country’s irrigated land. A recent study by University of Nebraska professor John S. Stansbury shows that TransCanada has vastly underestimated dangers posed by the pipeline. The study reveals that the Keystone XL pipeline could have up to 91 spills over 50 years, compared to TransCanada’s claims that there would be only 11. 

In addition, the pipeline would drive up fuel costs in the United States. According to TransCanada’s own documents and oil industry economist Philip Verleger, the pipeline would bypass Midwestern refineries, which help keep fuel costs low for American farmers by boosting competition. TransCanada predicts this would drive up fuel costs in the U.S. by up to $4 billion annually, and Verleger anticipates gas prices rising 10 to 20 cents a gallon. So TransCanada’s proposed pipeline would require America to bear the burden of transport and raise gas prices only to send the profits to Canada and the oil to global markets. 

 “While this might appear to some to be an economic trade-off worth considering, a major issue is that the oil is being transported to the Gulf of Mexico to make it available for export. In other words, Texans would bear the burden of the pollution, but the oil would either supply our global competitors or be priced equivalent to the export market set primarily by the OPEC nations,” the letter said.

The letter and fact sheet are available at https://www.citizen.org/sites/default/files/hr1938repletter.pdf and https://www.citizen.org/sites/default/files/hr1938factsheet.pdf.