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For Immediate Release, December 16, 2011

Contacts: Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495 

Center for Biological Diversity Statement on Rider Forcing a Decision on Disastrous Keystone XL Pipeline 

WASHINGTON— Congressional leaders have purportedly worked out a deal extending the payroll tax rate and unemployment benefits that includes a rider forcing a decision by President Obama on the Keystone XL Pipeline within 60 days. In response to massive public opposition to the project, in November the Obama administration delayed a decision until 2013 to allow for more review of the pipeline’s environmental and human consequences.   

“The Keystone XL pipeline is not in the national interest and should be rejected by President Obama,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The State Department’s own environmental review states that pumping dirty tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico through Keystone XL will pollute our water. It will also commit us to an unsustainable future based on dirty fossil fuels at the precise moment when the national interest demands that we rapidly transition to clean energy to avoid climate catastrophe. There is simply no way that President Obama can honor his commitments to the American people if he caves to Big Oil on Keystone XL at this late hour.”

Tens of thousands of Americans oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, which will export dirty tar sands oil and create a small number of lasting U.S. jobs. The State Department’s environmental review states that spills from Keystone XL are likely, estimating their frequency at about two spills per year throughout the pipeline’s 50-year lifespan. The pipeline route crosses the Yellowstone, Missouri, Platte and many other iconic rivers as well as the Ogallala Aquifer which provides fresh water for agriculture and millions of people. In Alberta, tar sands development threatens to destroy an area of boreal forest the size of Florida, pollutes three barrels of freshwater for every barrel of oil in the process creating toxic sludge ponds so big they can be seen from space, and emits two to three times more greenhouse gases than conventional oil to extract and refine.     

“Congressional Republicans are holding millions of struggling Americans who need the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits hostage to benefit their big oil campaign contributors,” said Greenwald. “This despicable act should not be rewarded.”

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