Senators Query Secretary Clinton On Pending Decision On TransCanada Tar Sands Pipeline

WASHINGTON (FRIDAY, Oct. 29) – Led by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), 11 U.S. senators are raising questions about the pending approval of the TransCanada Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  In a letter sent Thursday to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the lawmakers sought answers to a series of concerns they have about the pipeline.  Signing the letter, in addition to Leahy and Merkley, are Senators Roland Burris (D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

“Approval of this pipeline will significantly increase our dependence on this oil for decades,” the senators wrote.  “We believe the Department of State (DOS) should not pre-judge the outcome of what should be a thorough, transparent analysis of the need for this oil and its impacts on our climate and clean energy goals.”

The Environmental Protection Agency has already commented on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the project, giving it the lowest possible ranking due to concerns over significant environmental degradation caused by the extraction of oil from Canadian tar sands, the emissions of greenhouse gases from this extraction, and the risks associated with transporting this oil into and across the United States.   The Department of Energy has questioned whether tar sands oil actually offers significant energy security benefits.

The Department of State is ultimately responsible for approving the construction of the $7 billion pipeline.  According the Associated Press, Secretary Clinton last week indicated preliminary support for the new pipeline, saying she was “inclined” to support the project. 

The senators specified that a final decision regarding the approval of the pipeline should be contingent on answers to the questions posed in the letter. 

Click here to view the full text of the senators’ letter to Secretary Clinton.

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