The Keystone XL pipeline has been the subject of a six-year battle involving Canada, the US and the six states that the 1,179-mile proposed pipeline would cut across. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill approving the construction of the controversial pipeline. We were disappointed that one of the first actions by the newly elected Congress was to invest in fossil fuel infrastructure. The President’s stance on the issue is contrary to the recent decision, as he has stated his opposition, and intention to veto the controversial cross-border Keystone XL project. By doing so, he has shown the American people that he won’t be bullied by Congress into a fossil fuel future.
Keystone XL's goal is to carry 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil, per day, across the United States to be refined, exported and burned. Our stance at Ben & Jerry's is that we need to commit to the low carbon, renewable energy sources of the future. We stand for no new investments in fossil fuels, and it’s clear that this project is a step in the wrong direction.
The industrial process of extracting oil from the Alberta Tar sands is already taking a toll. For each barrel of tar sands oil produced, it takes three times the amount of water. As a result, regional rivers and basins have been redirected and altered with dams, disturbing the immediate environment. Then there are the ‘tailings’, the toxic leftovers from the refinement process, which are stored in tailing ponds in the area. These ponds are leaving a damaging legacy that is already leaking into local water supplies.
Beyond the local damage to the Alberta environment, the truly scary part is the amount of carbon still locked up in the tar sands. If we go all in on turning the tar sands into fuel, and eventually carbon emissions, it will equal “twice the amount emitted by global oil use in our entire history,” Dr. James Hansen has advised in the New York Times. “If Canada proceeds," says Hansen, "and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.”
Do we really want an environmentally harmful fuel source that will spur on the already drastic impacts of climate change? We say no. Add your voice to this petition asking governments to redouble their development of wind, solar and other renewable sources. Meanwhile, 350.org is organizing a day of action this Tuesday around the US to tell the President that it's high time to put Keystone to bed once and for all. Check out how you can get involved.