Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

March 2013 Conservation Notes

Keystone XL Pipeline

On March 1, the US State Department released a draft assessment of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The Department concluded that the pipeline would “not likely result in significant environmental effects”.


The Keystone XL pipeline links Canadian tar sands with US Gulf Coast refineries. It would carry a highly toxic oily compound known as bitumen. Pipelines often leak, sometimes severely despite precautions.


Virtually all climate scientists have warned that burning all that tar sands bitumen would probably make global heating and climate change weather chaos irreversible. Mining, processing, piping and refining all require significant fossil fuel energy, adding more heat-trapping carbon to earth’s atmosphere.


President Obama could cancel the proposed Keystone XL pipeline because it would cross an international border. Our State Department’s draft evaluation of the project suggests the Department supports presidential approval.


More than 40,000 environmental activists visited Washington DC last month, protesting the Keystone XL pipeline project. Many demonstrators were arrested for blocking the sidewalk in front of the White House. Among those arrested were actress Daryl Hannah, civil rights leader Julian Bond, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and his son Conor, climate change activist Bill McKibben and Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune.


The Sierra Club leader’s actions ended the club’s 120 year prohibition against civil disobedience. Michael Brune summed up the reason  for this major policy change:


“This particular project—Keystone XL pipeline—is so horrendous, it’s so wrong and it’s being proposed at such an important time that we don’t want to leave any tool on the table.” Brune also said that this pipeline would “guarantee that we’re locked into the most carbon-intensive fuel source on the planet”.


Let’s hope that President Obama is serious about combating climate change and halts this pipeline threat.


Lee Bidgood, Jr.

Gainesville, Florida