Dozens of environmental organizations urged President Barack Obama Monday to permanently terminate any prospect of the Keystone XL pipeline being built, warning that the project would deepen the nation's climate-changing commitment to fossil fuels.
The request came in a short letter signed by representatives of 70 organizations.
"Reject dirty fuels," the groups argued. "We should not pursue dirty fuels like tar sands when climate science tells us that 80 percent of existing fossil fuel reserves need to be kept in the ground. More specifically, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in our national interest because it would unlock vast amounts of additional carbon that we can’t afford to burn, extend our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels, endanger health and safety, and put critical water
resources at risk."
The U.S. Department of State is expected to decide soon whether to grant the authorization necessary for construction of the pipeline's northern section, which crosses the U.S.-Canada border, to begin.
The pipeline would allow transport of synthetic crude oil extracted from oil sands in Alberta to refineries in the midwest and along the Gulf of Mexico coast.
Obama previously rejected the pipeline in Jan. 2012 on grounds that it might have an adverse impact on the ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region of Nebraska. However, the state's Department of Environmental Quality issued a report last week that is skeptical of arguments that significant adverse environmental impact would occur if the pipeline is built.
The report acknowledges that the pipeline's route would traverse the Ogallala aquifer, but asserts that any harm to the groundwater contained in the aquifer would be of limited geographic reach.
The developer of the pipeline now proposes to avoid the Sand Hills region altogether.
The report will not be finalized until it is reviewed by the state's Republican governor, Dave Heineman.
Oil removed from the the Bakken formation in eastern Montana and western North Dakota could also be carried by the Keystone XL pipeline.