The League joined partners in signing a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives opposing H.R. 3. This legislation is sponsored by Congressman Lee Terry (NE) and would allow TransCanada to begin construction of the Keystone XL pipeline without receiving a permit. This legislation bypasses a decision that must be made by the U.S. Department of State after a review of the environmental impact is completed.

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

April 22, 2013

Dear Representative,

On behalf of our millions of members and supporters, we write to you today to urge you to oppose H.R. 3 sponsored by Representative Lee Terry. This irresponsible legislation would allow TransCanada to begin construction of the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline without even first receiving a permit. The disastrous tar sands oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas this month was a stark reminder of the inevitable dangers of these projects and of the inadequacy of current clean-up methods. This spill has left twenty-two families potentially permanently displaced from their homes by a river of tar sands oil pouring through their neighborhood – and all from a pipeline less than 1/9th the size of the Keystone XL. In light of this disaster, Representative Terry’s legislation is particularly irresponsible and inappropriate. Congress should not be in the business of rubber-stamping industry’s pet projects over protecting the health and welfare of their constituents. We urge you to oppose H.R. 3.

This massive pipeline would pass through one of our country’s largest and most important aquifers, threatening the health and livelihoods of thousands of Americans.  Approximately 571,000 workers are directly employed in the agricultural sector in the states along the Keystone XL corridor. We have seen in the past few years that even new tar sands pipelines spill with alarming frequency – TransCanada’s Keystone 1 spilled 14 times in its first year of operation. The risks that come with these pipelines are simply not in our national interest.

The oil that would be carried by this dangerous pipeline is the most environmentally destructive form of oil on the planet. Extracting and upgrading a barrel of tar sands into synthetic crude oil requires two to four barrels of freshwater, and causes approximately three times more greenhouse gas emissions than producing a barrel of conventional crude oil. This accounts for the twenty percent difference in lifecycle emissions between tar sands and average oil used in the U.S.  And, as acknowledged in last year’s hearing regarding pipeline safety in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, tar sands oil pipelines are a new phenomenon in this country. Serious questions remain about their safety, the frequency with which they will spill, and the public health impacts resulting from the inevitable spills. We have recently seen the ramifications of the unanswered questions about tar sands pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas, and three years ago in Marshal, Michigan. The impacts of these spills are still being felt – almost three years later, the Kalamazoo River still isn’t cleaned up.

The Keystone XL pipeline would benefit oil companies at the expense of the American people. TransCanada, the Canadian company proposing to build the Keystone XL pipeline, is on record before the Canadian Energy Board stating that the project would, in fact, increase the price of oil in the Midwest, by manipulating the supply of tar sands oil in the U.S.  Additionally, studies have shown that much of the product from the pipeline would be exported out of the country. Despite these risks, H.R. 3 specifically states that no Presidential Permit would be needed for the project, and would undermine numerous environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Americans should not be asked to shoulder the risk that comes with this massive pipeline, so that oil companies can reap the reward. We urge you to oppose H.R. 3.


Audubon Society of New Hampshire
Better Future Project
Bold Nebraska
Center for Biological Diversity
Energy Action Coalition
Environment America
Environment Maine
Friends of the Earth
League of Conservation Voters
League of Women Voters
Natural Resources Defense Council
Oil Change International
Public Citizen
Safe Climate Campaign
Sierra Club
Sierra Club Maine
Sierra Club Vermont
Vermont Natural Resources Council
350 Vermont