March 7, 2014 – Comment Deadline on Keystone XL Pipeline FSEIS

On January 31, the State Department published its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) for the Keystone XL pipeline project. Public comments will be accepted until March 7, 2014 at 11:59 pm (EST).  This is the last time the public has a chance to formally comment on the pipeline.  The FSEIS is a step towards ultimate approval of the Keystone XL project.

You may submit your comment electronically by clicking on http://www.regulations.gov, enter the Docket No. DOS–2014–0003 and follow the prompts by clicking on “Comment Now!” to submit a comment.

You may also mail a hard copy of your comment and postmarked no later than March 7, 2014.  To submit comments by mail, use the following address: Bureau of Energy Resources, Room 4843, Attn: Keystone XL Public Comments, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C St. NW., Washington, DC 20520.

Please note that standard mail delivery to the State Department can be delayed due to security screening.

For talking points, we thank Pat Almonrode of 350NYC for sending us the below sample letters:

Adapted from the letter of the Center for Biological Diversity:

(Docket ID: DOS-2014-0003)

Dear Secretary Kerry,

As a person deeply concerned with climate change, I want to thank you for your years of climate leadership during your time in the Senate.  You have been a leader in the fight against climate change for decades, and you’ve spoken out many times about the need to address this issue before it’s too late.  But all of that work will be for naught if you cannot convince President Obama that construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is in neither the national nor the global interest.

Despite the compromised FSEIS – compiled, as you know, by a contractor with ties to Big Oil – the evidence is overwhelming that Keystone XL would increase production levels of tar sands oil in Alberta, and therefore significantly add to carbon emissions.  Moreover, the massive investment would lock us into dependence on this dirty fuel for decades, exacerbating carbon pollution just when we badly need to go quickly, decisively in the opposite direction.

Keystone XL would also carry tremendous risk of devastating spills, right in our heartland.  It would pump 830,000 barrels of toxic tar sands oil every day from Canada straight through the United States.  It would endanger water supplies, displace forests and threaten wildlife – including at least 13 endangered species.

The FSEIS shockingly underestimated Keystone XL’s potential to accelerate climate change.  However, even this compromised document acknowledges that tar sands oil is more carbon intensive than regular crude, admitting that “the total direct and indirect emissions” of the project “would contribute to cumulative global GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions.”  An honest review would show that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would be a significant climate trigger and must not be constructed.

I urge you to continue to study the issue, to extend the public comment period, and finally to convey to President Obama that the construction of Keystone XL is not “in the national interest.”

Adapted from Reuters and ThinkProgress

(Docket ID: DOS-2014-0003)

Dear Secretary Kerry,

The recently released FSEIS for the Keystone XL pipeline – written, as you know, by a contractor with close ties to the oil industry – is flawed in several important respects and should be withdrawn.

Most significantly, the document unrealistically proceeds on the assumption that if the Alberta tar sands oil is not exported via this pipeline, it will just be shipped away via rail; thus, approval of Keystone XL will not significantly increase carbon pollution.

This assumption has been proven false.  An analysis by Reuters found that rail transport of this oil is too expensive to be feasible (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/18/us-usa-keystone-railroads-idUSBRE93H07I20130418).  In fact, one of the crude-by-rail industry’s biggest concerns is that regulators, prompted by a recent series of disastrous derailments, will impose safety measures that could erase any efficiencies that may exist in the rail model (see http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/02/03/keystone-canada-rail-idUKL2N0KX21G20140203).  And clearly, the industry’s very interest in building Keystone XL indicates that the project is seen as essential for getting Alberta tar sands oil to market.

The exploitation of the Alberta tar sands is not inevitable.  If Keystone XL is not constructed, that exploitation – and the resultant, continued rape of vast tracts of pristine Canadian arboreal forest – will be slowed and quite possibly stopped.  And it must be stopped.  As you are well aware, oil produced from the tar sands is some of the “dirtiest” liquid fuel on the planet.  It must remain in the ground, or we will light the fuse to a “carbon bomb” that will mean “essentially game over for the climate,” according to the eminent climate scientist James Hansen (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/10/opinion/game-over-for-the-climate.html?_r=0).

I urge you to continue to study the issue, to extend the public comment period, and finally to convey to President Obama that the construction of Keystone XL is not “in the national interest.”

Adapted from the letter of Moms’ Clean Air Force:

(Docket ID: DOS-2014-0003)

Dear Secretary Kerry,

Stopping one pipeline won’t stop the growth of the fossil fuel industry.  But if you allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, you’ll be encouraging the development of Alberta’s tar sands – some of the dirtiest fuel on the planet – for many decades to come.

The pipeline isn’t the polluter; the development of the tar sands is.  But the pipeline is seen by the industry itself as essential to developing the market for tar sands.

The United States cannot and must not be complicit in the development of this filthy, retrograde fuel.  Keystone XL is about yesterday’s power.  We must focus – as engineers, economists, and parents and consumers – on tomorrow’s power.  Our goal must be to power our country with energy that is clean, affordable, and sustainable.  Allowing construction of Keystone XL will set that goal back for many decades – decades that we just don’t have.

I urge you to continue to study the issue, to extend the public comment period so that all Americans can be heard on this issue, and finally to convey to President Obama that construction of Keystone XL would not be “in the national interest.”

Adapted from the letter of the League of Conservation Voters:

(Docket ID: DOS-2014-0003)

Dear Secretary Kerry,

As a person concerned with climate change, I want to thank you for your years of climate leadership as a Senator.  As Secretary of State, you now have the opportunity to have an even greater impact in the fight to stop and, ultimately, reverse climate change.  One of the main ways you can do that now is by conveying to President Obama that Keystone XL is not in our national interest and should not be allowed to go forward.

The evidence is clear that Keystone XL would accelerate the development of the Alberta tar sands, and thereby significantly add to the amount of carbon pollution we already pump into the atmosphere.  Moreover, the massive investment required to build Keystone XL would lock us into dependence on this dirty fuel for decades, exacerbating carbon pollution just when we have to move quickly and decisively to lessen it.

This dangerous pipeline would also put the water supply of millions of Americans at risk.  Keystone XL pipeline carries a tremendous risk of devastating spills, right in our heartland, by pumping toxic tar sands “dilbit” straight through the heart of United States.  Even a small spill could have catastrophic effects on wildlife habitat, waterways, and ground water – including the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the most important sources of ancient water on this planet.  After a year in which many communities were harmed by spills from existing pipelines, we cannot allow any more of the dirtiest, most toxic oil on earth to spill into our lands and waterways.

Although the recently released Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement downplayed both Keystone XL’s potential to fuel climate change and its immediate threat to the ecosystem, you can set the record straight in your draft National Interest Determination.

At a minimum, you must say that construction of Keystone XL is not in our national interest.  But you should go further, and acknowledge that this pipeline would be an absolute disaster not only for our country, but for our planet.

I urge you to continue to study the issue, to extend the public comment period so that all Americans can be heard on this issue, and finally to convey to President Obama that construction of Keystone XL would not be “in the national interest.”

Adapted from the letter of the National Wildlife Federation:

(Docket ID: DOS-2014-0003)

Dear Secretary Kerry,

The proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a serious threat our efforts to curb climate change.  It is also a direct threat to wildlife and to wildlife habitat.  The evidence is overwhelming that, if approved, Keystone XL would accelerate the exploitation of the Alberta tar sands deposits, devastating crucial habitat areas for at-risk wildlife.

To consider just one at-risk species, the survival of thousands of woodland caribou in Alberta depends on your decision.  The woodland caribou’s boreal forest habitat is already rapidly disappearing due to timber, gas, and tar sands development.  What remains of this fragile habitat will be destroyed by the massively expanded development that will result if Keystone XL is allowed to go forward.

Woodland caribou require large tracts of relatively undisturbed old growth forest for their food and shelter.  If Keystone XL is approved, the resulting increase in tar sands strip-mining would destroy huge swaths of forest, devastating the fragile ecosystem on which the caribou depend.  In fact, if habitat destruction from tar sands is not stopped, scientists predict that some caribou herds in the region could disappear entirely in as little as 30 years – succumbing, as the buffalo, the passenger pigeon, and other once-plentiful species have, to humankind’s rapacious hunger for resources.

The expansion of tar sands development that would result from the approval of Keystone XL would also greatly accelerate the global climate crisis.  Clean energy that benefits people and has much less impact on wildlife is the path forward for economic and energy security in America – not another tar sands pipeline.  Of course, the final decision on Keystone XL will be up to President Obama, but your department, as the lead agency, will point the way.  That way is forward into a future of clean, sustainable energy, not backwards into the fossil-fuel past.

I urge you to continue to study the issue, to extend the public comment period so that all Americans can be heard on this issue, and finally to convey to President Obama that construction of Keystone XL would not be “in the national interest.”

 

 

 

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