"As the State Department’s review is ongoing, it is inappropriate for you to make statements about what final decision you are 'inclined' to make," leaders of the seven groups wrote in a two-page letter about Clinton’s Oct. 15 remarks. "The decision about whether or not to permit this pipeline is a key environmental decision for this administration, yet your recent comments make it clear that you are biased."
Capitol Hill Weighs In
Policymakers have proven to be both pro- and anti-pipeline.
In a July 16 letter, 35 House Republicans encouraged Clinton to approve Keystone XL as quickly as possible. That followed a June 23 letter signed by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman of California and 49 other Democrats.
Waxman's plea urged Clinton to consider the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands oil to figure out if it consistent with the Obama administration’s clean energy and climate change priorities.
In late October, 11 Democratic senators—all from states not directly affected by the pipeline—laid out 10 specific concerns about TransCanada’s proposal. Nelson and Nebraska’s other senator, Republican Mike Johanns, have expressed similar concerns in separate correspondence with the State Department.
Johanns has asked the U.S. State Department to pursue an alternate, more easterly, route that would traverse north from Steele City, Neb., to the U.S./Canada border in North Dakota instead of Montana.
Such a solution, he says, would keep TransCanada’s pipeline out of Nebraska’s sandhills and away from the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies 78 percent of the water supply and 83 percent of the water for irrigation in the Cornhusker State.
"Thank you for your personal commitment to making progress on climate change" the 11 senators wrote in their Oct. 29 letter to Clinton. "As you recently stated, tar sands oil is 'dirty oil.' Approval of this pipeline will significantly increase our dependence on this oil for decades."
Photo: Mark Nozell