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Opposition to Keystone XL Mounts—Along With Safety Questions | The Nation

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George Zornick

George Zornick

Action and dysfunction in the Beltway swamp. E-mail tips to george@thenation.com

Opposition to Keystone XL Mounts—Along With Safety Questions

The arrests outside the White House may have ended, but the pressure to stop President Obama from approving the Keystone XL pipeline continues to build. Yesterday, the challenge came from within his own party: seven Democratic National Committee members signed a resolution urging Obama to reject the pipeline deal.

The document, authored by Maryland state legislator and DNC member Heather Mizeur, says that “by denying the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama would enhance national security, advance job creation in the new ‘green economy,’ improve public health, and take a positive stand for addressing climate change concerns.” Representative Mike Honda is one of the other six signers.

The DNC members aren’t the only members of the party to urge Obama to say no: Senator Patrick Leahy, along with Representatives Peter Welch and Steve Cohen, have also publicly opposed the pipeline. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders also opposes the project, and even a Republican Senator, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, has come out against the project, as has the Republican governor of that state.

Meanwhile, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has compiled a powerful research document that challenges many of the claims made by TransCanada and the US State Department about tough regulatory oversight of the project.

The State Department report that gave the Keystone XL pipeline a passing environmental grade repeatedly referenced new regulations from the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration that govern pipeline transport of heavy crude oil—the type of oil that will be flowing through the Keystone XL pipeline, and which regulators don’t have much experience with.

But the NRDC found that the new regulations governing heavy crude aren’t all that rigorous. In fact, only twelve of the fifty-seven “new” rules actually differ from existing minimum requirements for pipeline safety. In some cases, the regulations were just reworded with no substantial difference. “This is one of the many examples of the State Department and TransCanada playing a shell game to avoid addressing the legitimate safety concerns that the American public has with the Keystone XL,” the study’s author said.

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