The Interfaith Environmental Network (IEN) of Austin issues the following statement about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. In addition to issuing this statement, leaders of IEN plan to testify on this issue at the State Department hearing in Austin on Wednesday, September 28, 2011.
The Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin, a coalition of individuals and congregations from a variety of faith traditions who are committed to environmental stewardship, is opposed to the request being submitted to the U.S. State Department by TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL pipeline, that would carry bitumencrude petroleum 1,661 miles from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada down to Houston, Texas.
Our opposition to this proposal is based on several environmental and moral concerns:
1. We are in agreement with the stated desire of two administrations now within our government (Bush and Obama) to have our nation move away from our "addiction to oil" and to invest in renewable energy sources and better efficiency and conservation practices for important environmental reasons. This proposed oil pipeline is simply another expensive short-term effort by the oil industry to continue to supply America with fossil fuel, thus circumventing the more urgent need to invest in renewable energy infrastructures for the future that are less harmful to our environment than the continued reliance on fossil fuels. We believe it is morally and spiritually unconscionable to continue to burden future generations with our reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to global warming. To continue to develop oil pipelines in our country reflects an unwillingness to find the collective will to take the necessary steps to start practicing today prudent stewardship of the earth’s resources for our energy needs.
2. Tar sand bitumen is used primarily to produce a synthetic petroleum and the synthetic crude from bitumen is expensive and complicated to produce. This source of petroleum energy will not be less affordable than other forms of cleaner energy that our nation could invest in without the potential risk of oil line leaks or explosions.
3. The mining of this kind of oil in Canada’s pristine boreal forests is incredibly destructive for habitat, wildlife and human life—and it significantly increases greenhouse gas emissions at a critical time in our effort to combat global warming. In addition, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would run through environmentally-sensitive areas in the U.S., including the Ogallala Aquifer which supplies 30% of the groundwater for American agriculture—as well as about 80% of the drinking water for people who live within the aquifer’s eight state boundary; where a spill over that aquifer would be disastrous. As those in the faith community who believe that the care of the earth is a critical spiritual issue for our time, we oppose this attempt by an oil company to place financial gain and the availability of more fossil fuels ahead of environmental protection.
For these reasons we urge the U. S. State Department and the Obama administration to reject the application from TransCanada to build the Keystone XL Pipeline in the United States of America.