The more people learn about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,

the less they like it.”  --Robert Redford


Welcome to the 3rd issue of the “No Tar Sands” Newsletter.  We are now a bi-monthly publication. Our original intention was to publish the “No Tar Sands Newsletter” once a month, but since so much is happening so fast, we are putting out a scaled down version every two weeks. Please pass the NTS Newsletter on to your friends, co-workers, and family. Like Robert Redford says, “The more people learn about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the less they like it.” We’ve come a long way in raising public awareness about tar sands oil, but there remains much to be done. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that Keystone XL pipeline construction is supported by 65% of Americans. Only 22% oppose it! To avoid huge and irreversible damage to the planet, we need to join forces and stop the Keystone XL pipeline once and for all.


350 Silicon Valley “No Tar Sands” News.  How successful were we in responding to the State Department’s request for input on their National Interest Determination?  What did we learn at the NTS breakout sessions at our recent 350SV quarterly meeting? For answers to these questions, Read more...

Ask Pierre.  We’re adding a new feature. Our “No Tar Sands” Team Coordinator, Pierre Delforge, will give us his take on important issues relating to the Keystone XL pipeline.  If you have questions for him, you can submit them either to kpimentel(at) or stewplock(at) In this issue, see what Pierre has to say about the Keystone XL decision-making process and civil disobedience training in San Jose. Read more...

Feature Article. On Keystone XL, John Kerry, and the Global Interest. Find out what is influencing John Kerry’s fact finding and decision-making process.  He calls climate change a weapon of mass destruction, so what’s holding him back from advising the President to deny the KXL permit? Read more...

Feature Video. Mass Arrests in Keystone XL Protests on March 2nd.  View this current video on how thousands of U.S. college students have organized against tar sands exploitation. Watch here...

Our Top Five Hottest Articles. For this issue, we are including five articles with summaries and links to the entire article. Read more...

Did You Know?  Other interesting tar sands and KXL facts from current articles are included in this edition’s “Did You Know?” section. Read more...

“Global Warming 101”. We continue our “Global Warming 101” series designed for family, friends and colleagues who may not be as well informed about climate issues as you. This issue features an adaptation of a science blog by Greg Laden on what’s wrong with building the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Read more...

                                                                         Kathy Pimentel and Stew Plock, Editors

Pierre Delforge, 350SV “No Tar Sands” Team Coordinator



KXL Comment and Letter Writing Campaign a Huge Success. The release of the State Department’s environmental impact report initiated a 30-day public comment period that just closed on March 7. We had 281 letters generated by 350SV per our website, probably more since not everyone may have registered their letter. So probably around 300, which is great. On the last day of the public comment period, Keystone XL opponents held a rally in front of the State Department where they delivered more than 2 million comments which they submitted to the State.  To read more about this, see below “This Issue’s Recommended Articles – Keystone XL Opponents Deliver 2 Million+ Comments.” 

THANK YOU to all who wrote letters and got their friends and families to do the same. This was an “all hands on deck” 350SV effort, with members of the No Tar Sands , Carbon Price and Subsidies, Divestment, Outreach and Fracking teams all contributing. Way to go 350SV!

New Tar Sands Team Sign-ups at the March 2nd 350 Silicon Valley General Meeting. The KXL breakouts at the general meeting went well.  We had quite a few new folks who were very concerned about KXL and wanted to get involved, as well as current team members who stopped by.  We collected 8 new sign-ups and several of them have already RSVP'd for our March 22 meeting!

Next “No Tar Sands” Team Meeting. Be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, March 22 for our next “No Tar Sands” team meeting.  We will discuss what’s happened since our last meeting (a LOT!) and plan where we go from here.  Time: 1:00-3:00. Location: Le Boulanger, 305 N. Mathilda Avenue, Sunnyvale.



We all have questions relating to the Keystone XL pipeline. Our “No Tar Sands” Team Coordinator, Pierre Delforge, gives us some insight about what’s going on.

Pierre, in your opinion, where are we in the Keystone XL decision-making process? 

We are currently in the middle of the 90-day National Interest Determination phase. The other government agencies, such as EPA, and the public are commenting to the Department of State (DoS) on whether the pipeline is in the US national interest or not. The DoS will release its recommendation by end of April. Then it is up to President Obama to make the final decision. This is consistent with what the President told Republican Governors on Feb. 24, that he would make the decision in a "couple months". This is vague, but it does seem to indicate that Obama intends to let the National Interest Determination process play out. So we think we're heading toward a final decision in May, although there are still a lot of moving pieces and uncertainties, and Obama's "couple months" could still drag out until after the Nov. elections.

What’s the status of civil disobedience action in San Jose? Should we be thinking about putting champagne on ice or preparing our banners?

After the release of the National Interest Determination report, if the DoS comes to the conclusion that the pipeline is NOT in the U.S. national interest, we will celebrate our victory right then!  If, however, the report concludes that it IS in the national interest, CREDO, and others will engage in a nationwide series of non-violent civil disobedience actions to sway the administration to reject KXL. In San Jose, the Pledge of Resistance Sit-In is likely to happen in early May. There will be a last Sit-In training in April. Take the Pledge of Resistance if you want to participate in the civil disobedience part of this event. A 100% legal support will be held at the same time across the street.


On Keystone XL, John Kerry, and the Global Interest

Climate Science Watch and Oil Change International/Huffington Post agreed that John Kerry has a lot on his plate….Ukraine and Russia, Syria, Israel and Palestine, Iran, and, yes, the strategic U.S. decision on exporting tar sands-based products.

Speaking in Jakarta, Indonesia, on February 16, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called climate change a weapon of mass destruction and urged developing countries to do more to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Yet one has to wonder what he and the President are thinking as our nation is pivoting toward a more sustainable energy future while America's oil and coal corporations are racing to position the country as the planet's dirty-energy dealer – supplying the developing world with cut-rate, high-polluting, climate damaging fuels. Much like tobacco companies did in the 1990s – when new taxes, regulations and rising consumer awareness undercut domestic demand – Big Carbon is turning to lucrative new markets in booming Asian economies where regulations are looser. Worse, the White House has quietly championed this dirty-energy trade. The following  chart tells it all...the huge gap between the State department’s recent report and our nation’s climate goals…Kerry and Obama’s dilemma.

Learn about some of the behind-the-scenes discussions between our government and our foreign Big Carbon customers. Read the entire article here:



Mass Arrests in Keystone XL Protests

On Sunday March 2, in front of the White House, 250 people, many of them college students, handcuffed themselves to the gate and were later arrested while protesting the KXL pipeline. Students across the nation get the urgency of the situation…the time for action is now! To watch this nine-minute video, view here:



Keystone XL Opponents Deliver 2 Million+ Comments (eNews Park Forest)

On March 7, the last day of the public comment period, Keystone XL opponents held a rally in front of the State Department. They delivered more than 2 million comments submitted to the State Department to urge Secretary Kerry and President Obama to reject the dirty, dangerous pipeline. The public comment period began on February 5, after the State Department published the final environmental review.

Read the entire article here:

Obama’s Pipeline  (New York Times)

Congressman Raul Grijalva is an enthusiastic supporter of the President. Still, he warns that if the President approves the Keystone XL pipeline on the basis of the lobbying and bad science that has been offered to support it, much of Obama’s good work will be undone and a business-as-usual atmosphere will settle back on Washington like a heavy cloud. It would be a bad end to what could still be a very strong environmental legacy.

Read the entire article here:

State Department Used Oil Industry Insider for KXL Impact Study…a Conflict of Interests?  (Common Dreams)

Why was UK-based Environmental Resources Management (ERM) chosen to do the recently released Environmental Impact Study regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline?  While allowing ERM, a member of the American Petroleum Institute, to review a tar sands oil pipeline may technically be legal, it is by no means responsible. and Friends of the Earth joined forces to release  an amazing graphic you’ll see in this article. It shows the conflicts of interests they perceive between ERM, TransCanada and the flawed process that has allowed the oil industry's lobbying arm to help push through the Keystone XL pipeline.

Read the entire article here:

Nurses Have Ten Reasons to Oppose the KXL

With the clock ticking down on a final decision by the Obama administration on Keystone XL, it’s time to update why the nation’s largest nurses organization is opposed to a project that looks more like a pathway to pollution than a gateway to our gas pumps. Citing the threat to public health and how the project would hasten the climate crisis, nurses have been on the front line of protests against the KXL.

Read the entire article here:

Editor-in-Chief of Science Magazine is Wrong to Endorse Keystone XL (Citizen Challenge/Skeptical Science)

Why did Marcia McNutt of Science Magazine conditionally endorse the Keystone XL pipeline? Her argument is that President Obama can approve the pipeline while he extracts concessions from the Canadians to reduce emissions and upgrade the bitumen in Canada. There two reasons that is wrong-minded; 1) Pipelines promote production…Period!  and 2) Harper’s Canadian government shows no signs of wanting to work with the U.S. on this issue.  The world needs fewer pipelines and more climate change action cooperation.

Read the entire article here:



…The March 2 student protest in front of the White House against the Keystone XL pipeline was a dramatic demonstration of the youth climate movement’s growing power and resolve. The size and intensity of the march from Georgetown and the action at the White House fence represented a new and escalated tone and energy. Several experienced climate organizers agreed it was unlike anything they’d seen. These “kids” meant business.

…Ed Schultz, host of MSNBC's The Ed Show, has changed his mind and become the latest prominent opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline. The argument that won out for him was the risk to the Ogallala aquifer.  “The Keystone XL pipeline that would go over the Ogallala aquifer is one of the biggest energy risks this country will ever take,” he said.  “It is going to be one of the most disastrous things if it does leak because it is irreversible.  If you say no, Mr. President, it will be a huge symbolic statement to the country and to the world we're serious about this climate thing."

… Carbon Tracker finds that building the pipeline would enable additional tar sands production equivalent to building 46 new coal plants. This represents a significant difference from the State Department report that holds that the pipeline is essentially irrelevant for additional tar sands production, because the oil would come out regardless. Why the difference?  Is it possible that rather than examining the full range of available data to test a hypothesis, the State Department instead chose data that suited a predetermined conclusion?

… All pipelines spill. According to TransCanada the Keystone 1 pipeline was predicted to spill once every seven years. It spilled 12 times in its first year and it has spilled more than 30 times over its lifetime. The Keystone XL pipeline is built to spill, and when it does it will have a devastating effect upon employment and the economy, according to Cornell University.


GLOBAL WARMING 101:                   

What is wrong with building the Keystone XL Pipeline? (from Greg Laden’s Science BLOG)

As we have used fossil fuels to run our society and economy over time, we started with fuels that were available near the point of use, or relatively easy to extract, transport, and refine, or both. Over time fuels with these characteristics have been increasingly used up so at this point we have to get our fuel by processing dirty sources, fracking, or bringing it in from long distances via ships and pipelines. This applies generally around the world, not just to the US.

Even if the remaining hydrocarbon fuels were relatively clean and easy to pump out of the ground, we would be facing a very significant fact. The amount of fuel just in the Canadian tar sands deposits is roughly equal to some large percentage of the total amount of fuel we’ve already used (around 1 trillion barrels). The Alberta tar sands hold about double what we’ve used so far. For the moment, forget about the dangers of building a pipeline or the environment of Alberta, Canada. Just focus on this fact: We are running out of liquid hydrocarbons and need to stop adding fossil Carbon to the atmosphere or we are in big trouble.

So here’s the question:  we have a way to access enough fuel to easily double or even triple the total amount of liquid hydrocarbon fuel we have used so far. What do we do?

The answer, obviously, must be: We don’t use that fuel. We just don’t take that path. We refuse to decide to step over this particular cliff. In reality, there is an added complexity that is actually potentially helpful. This is the fact that the new fuel source, the Alberta tar sands, are hard to use. They are in the middle of a continent, they are hard to extract oil from, the stuff that comes out is icky and hard to handle and refine, and the environmental costs and risks of extraction and distribution are quite large. So there is an irony here. There is a long list of reasons to not extract the tar sands fuel, but none of those reasons are the main reason to not extract them. Never mind the ground water in Alberta or Nebraska. Never mind how many jobs the Keystone XL pipeline may or may not produce. Never mind the shifting economics of where or how the refining of the fuel occurs or the potential environmental effects of transporting billions of gallons of fuel by ship across the sea. Sure, that is all important but it is not the point. The reason to not extract them is that we need to stop using fossil hydrocarbons. If we use that fuel, we will change the Earth’s atmosphere to a point where human existence on this planet cannot continue to look very much like it does now.

If Obama says “no” to Keystone, will a pipeline be built anyway?

If we build the Keystone XL pipeline it will be because Obama gives it the go-ahead. It is essentially his decision at this point. It is a fallacy that if the US nixes the project that a new tar sands pipeline will be built anyway. The alternative routes to the sea are all difficult, expensive, and mostly move through territories where the opposition to any pipelines is pretty much intractable. Provincial and First Nation opposition is very strong. Also, the difference between heading south from Alberta vs. east or west is huge. Going west means crossing one of the world’s most formidable mountain chains. Going east means going a great distance, over smaller mountains and rugged terrain, and reaching a port that does not exist.

If Obama says no, that means no. So, why would he say yes? Two words: Big Oil. Ok, a few more words: Unprecedented wealth and power in the hands of a small number of people who control politics in the United States to such an extent that they can’t be ignored.

If the Keystone XL pipeline is not built, that oil will still flow out of Alberta, for example by train, but at a much slower rate. It flows out now, but the overall flow of Alberta tar sands oil is a small fraction now of what it could be. We need to keep it at a small fraction now, and eventually shut it down. Saying yes to Keystone XL will not accomplish that.

If the Keystone XL pipeline is built, the oil will be burned, and the amount of Carbon in our atmosphere will continue to rise at roughly its current rate, plus or minus, for many years and the worst expected scenarios for climate change will be well within the range of possibilities, and all of the medium to not so bad scenarios will happen for sure. There is not a reasonable argument that can be made that says that this is not true. It really will happen.

See the entire here: