Letter to Sec. Clinton on the Keystone Pipeline

| August 24, 2010 Print

16 August 2010
Hilary Clinton
Secretary of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Secretary Clinton;

As faith-based organizations concerned for people and the environment in the United States and Canada, we respectfully request that you deny the presidential permit that TransCanada Corporation has applied for, in an effort to stop the construction of the Keystone Pipeline XL project.

The construction of such a pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Houston, TX would have devastating impacts on people in the area. The tar-sands oil under the Boreal Forest in Canada is some of the dirtiest fuel on the planet. Once extracted and burned, tar-sands oil produces high levels of sulfur oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide. As such, the health problems to those who reside in the refining processing area would be tangible. Furthermore, the refinery sites of Houston and Port Arthur, TX are already failing the Clean Air Act standards; adding more sulfur, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide to the air will only compound the already existing poor conditions and have adverse affects on the people in these cities, as well as the surrounding areas. A pipeline, such as this, cannot be in the national interest and, therefore, needs to be stopped.

The proposed pipeline would cross not only 1,300 miles of privately owned land, but 500 miles of farmland, as well as the Yellowstone River and the Ogallala Aquifer. The Ogallala Aquifer provides roughly 30% of all the water used for irrigation on American farms. We urge you to look to the current situation in the Gulf Coast to realize the devastating impacts that an oil spill can have. We cannot afford to allow even the possibility of an oil spill to affect water that accounts for nearly one third of our irrigation water.

Workers, neighboring communities, and the environment have paid the price for the oil industry’s rapid expansion of the tar sands. The pristine Boreal Forest has been ravaged by strip mining and pollution. This pollution has impacted wildlife and people living in the area. Downstream from the mining operations, indigenous people have seen high rates of rare cancers and other diseases. In one indigenous community of 1,200 people, over 100 community members have died of cancer and other auto-immune diseases in the last decade.

Our request is the denial of the permit for the pipeline, but if the permit is granted, it is imperative that the width of the steel used in the production of the pipeline be of the highest quality and safety standards. The push by TransCanada to allow steel of a lesser quality and thickness to be used needs to be blocked at all costs, in an effort to protect the people and the environment. Since 2002, there have been roughly 1 billion dollars in damages caused by pipeline spills in the United States, and Canadian pipelines have spilled about 4 million gallons of oil into the environment since the late 1970s.

As a people of faith, we are in awe of Earth’s goodness and its ability to provide life for all of God’s creation. As such we need to ensure that proper steps are taken to secure this ability for future generations to come. As a people, society, and government we need to respect the intrinsic value of creation, and thus, the environment as well. We urge you not to permit TransCanada the opportunity to build the Keystone XL Pipeline and should the project continue anyway, that safety and security for all parts of the project be of the highest standards.

We urge you, and the Obama Administration to take this opportunity to stop the Keystone Pipeline from being built. We realize the pipeline is a response to increasing demands for energy in the U.S. As an alternative, we encourage investments in increased efficiency and sustainable energy systems using wind, solar and geothermal power. Solutions requiring efficiency and sustainability will endure and will maintain our health and the health of the environment. We agree that the U.S. needs, as President Obama has said, a “clean energy future”. Tar-sands oil cannot in any way be described as “clean energy”. Stop the pipeline before it ever starts.


8th Day Center for Justice
Adorers of the Blood of Christ, US Region
Chicago Benedictines for Peace
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
The Congregation of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart
The Dominican Sisters of Houston
Dominican Sisters of Springfield, IL
Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls
Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart
Institute Justice Team, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation Office, School Sisters of Notre Dame, St. Louis, MO.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Leadership Team, Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Office of Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Mankato Province, St. Paul, MN
Partnership for Earth Spirituality, New Mexico
School Sisters of Notre Dame of St. Louis, Provincial Council
School Sisters of Notre Dame Shalom North America Coordinating Committee
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Congregational Leadership, Nazareth, KY
Sisters of Mercy New York, Pennsylvania, Pacific West Justice Team
Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia
Sisters of St. Francis, Tiffin, Ohio
Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Associates, St. Louis Province
Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield
Sisters of the Presentation, Aberdeen, SD

CC: President Obama