Nurses are against the Keystone XL due in large part to their concern about the possible health impacts and the associated climate change causing emissions. Here are ten reasons why nurses oppose the Keystone XL by Rose Ann DeMoro.
1. No jobs on a dead planet
More jobs are certainly needed, but even the just-concluded State Department assessment conceded Keystone would support only 35 post-construction jobs. Infrastructure repair and promoting a green economy is a far better solution for the jobs crisis than a project that NASA scientist and climate expert James Hanson famously calls “game over” on the climate front. If the threshold issue is jobs, nurses should support the pipeline as a full-employment act in the volume of additional patients sickened by the pipeline’s health hazards and the toll from accelerated climate change. But nurses see an inseparable link between environmental justice and the health of our communities and the planet.
From the ground to the pipe to the refineries, Keystone’s tar sands oil, with its thick, dirty, corrosive properties, pose a far greater hazard than conventional oil – a major reason for National Nurses United and nurse opposition. Toxic contaminants in the massive water needed for extraction are infecting clean water supplies with towns nearby Alberta experiencing spikes in cancer deaths, renal failure, lupus, and hyperthyroidism. Huge pipeline spills near Marshall, Mi. and Mayflower, Ar. have led to respiratory ailments and other health ills. Pollutants from tar sands refineries are linked to heart and lung disease, asthma, and cancer.
Mounds of Petcoke, the carbon residue of tar sands refining, piled up for export for burning, have produced toxic dust storms that have left area residents gasping near Detroit, Chicago, and other locales. Canadian scientists are also alarmed at mercury “wafting” into the air from tar sands production which, in chronic exposure, have been linked to brain damage.
Nurses see an explosion of asthma sufferers, especially children. More than 40 percent of Americans now live in areas slammed by air pollution with levels of particle pollution that can also cause higher incidents of heart attacks and premature death. Keystone will multiply carbon emissions and speed up climate change resulting in more polluted air, higher air temperatures which can also increase bacteria-related food poisoning, such as salmonella, and animal-borne diseases such as West Nile virus.
In the last year alone, we’ve seen the worst cyclone ever to hit landfall, fueled by sub-surface ocean temperatures 9 degrees above normal, the largest recorded tornado ever recorded, record droughts, and other unprecedented weather anomalies. While some discount the link to climate change, there’s no dispute that the past decade was the hottest on record. Nurses, as NNU’s RNRN volunteers can attest, treat the human collateral damage, thousands of patients affected by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines, for example, who endured life-threatening injuries and loss of their homes and livelihoods.
6. Carbon bomb
All workers and their families live in the same communities affected by the climate crisis and the pipeline health hazards. Despite naysayers who insist there is no environmental justification to block it, there is as much scientific consensus on Keystone as there is on the human hand behind the climate crisis, or the factual evidence of evolution. In addition to Hanson, who calls Keystone “the biggest carbon bomb on the planet,” dozens of other prominent scientists signed a 2013 letter stating “the actual and potential environmental damage (are) sufficiently severe to reject Keystone to protect the climate, human health, and the multiple ecosystems this project threatens.” In simple terms, Keystone would generate the carbon emission equivalent of 40 million more cars or 50 coal-fired power plants every year.
7. Energy independence
Contrary to the myth, Keystone would contribute little to U.S. energy independence. The oil is headed to Texas ports for a reason – to be shipped overseas. TransCanada, the corporation behind Keystone, balked at a Congressional proposal to condition approval on keeping the refined oil in the U.S., and reports say TransCanada already has contracts to sell much of the oil to foreign buyers.
8. Tar sands
Proponents insist that if Keystone is blocked, the tar sands crude will just be shipped by rail. Many disagree, among them a pro-pipeline Canadian think tank that predicts without Keystone, “investment and expansion will grind to a halt,” a view shared by the International Energy Agency, Goldman Sachs and some oil executives. Increasingly, it appears, the pipeline is the linchpin for tar sands development.
9. People versus oil
In one corner, the American Petroleum Institute, the oil billionaire Koch Brothers, other fossil fuel giants, the far right American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and politicians they influence – the same folks behind the attacks on unions, worker rights and health care and social justice reforms. Standing with NNU in opposition are every major environmental group, farmers, ranchers and community leaders along the pipeline pathway, First Nations leaders, many clergy, most Canadian unions, and U.S. transit unions.
10. Robert Redford
“The more people learn about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the less they like it,” says actor/environmentalist Redford. “Tar sands crude means a dirtier, more dangerous future for our children all so that the oil industry can reach the higher prices of overseas markets. This dirty energy project is all risk and no reward for the American people.”
A Brief Review of the Keystone XL Saga
The Fate of the Keystone XL: The Ball is in Your Court Mr President
Refuting the Rationale for Approving the Keystone XL
Business Leaders, Scientists, Economists and Ordinary People Reject the Keystone XL
Video – Two Million Comments Rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline
Video – Obama’s Top Aids and Democratic Donors Oppose the Keystone XL
Keystone XL will Fly or Fail Depending on Who you Talk to
The Keystone XL Pipeline: Debunking Four Cardinal Lies
Moving Bitumen by Rail Rather than Pipe will Lessen Tar Sands Expansion
Comparison of the Keystone XL and Renewable Energy
Video – A New Approach to Protest Against the KXL
Video – Farcical Comedy on Keystone XL Jobs
How Come the Keystone XL is so Hard to Kill
Oil Spills Add to Concerns about the Keystone XL Pipeline
Protests Greet the Keystone XL South as it Makes its First Deliveries of Oil
Video – This is What a Corroded Underwater Tar Sands Pipeline Looks Like
Taxpayers Money to Promote Fossil Fuel Pipeline Brought to you by Canada’s Ruling Federal Conservatives
Keystone XL on the Ropes: Conflict of Interest Revealed in the State’s EIS
Obama Says the Number of Keystone XL Jobs are “Negligible
Obama Rebuffs the Keystone XL’s Economic and Jobs Benefits
New Tar Sands Pipeline Goes East to Follow the Path of Least Resistance
The Fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline in the Wake of President Obama’s Georgetown University Speech
Unions Oppose the Keystone XL in the Jobs vs. Environment Debate
EPA Slams State Department on the Keystone XL
Cornell University Questions the Economic Benefits of the Keystone XL Pipeline
American Employment: Keystone XL vs Green Jobs
A New State Department Environmental Impact Assessment Clears the Keystone XL Pipeline
The DoD’s Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap (CCAR) Excludes Keystone XL
Obama to Expedite the Keystone XL Pipeline
Bill McKibben on Obama’s Keystone XL Reversal
Republicans Vow to Continue Push for Keystone
The Center for Biological Diversity CREDO and Friends of the Earth Slam Keystone Reversal
Indigenous People and Students Protest Obama’s Reversal on Keystone XL
GOP’s Keystone XL Proposal Fails in Senate
Anti-Keystone XL Ad Campaign
The Keystone XL and Rising Fuel Prices
Video: Keystone XL will Raise Gas Prices
Republicans Refuse to Let the Keystone XL Die
Keystone XL Protest Message Campaign a Success
Resistance to Republican Efforts to Resurrect the Keystone XL Pipeline
Obama Cancels the Keystone XL Pipeline Project
President Obama Stops Keystone XL Pipeline
Republicans Use Blackmail to Gain Support for the Keystone XL Pipeline
Tar Sands Day of Action in Washington
President Obama and the Fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline
NRDC November 6 Protest Against the Keystone XL in Washington DC
Nebraska’s Special Session to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline
South Dakota Wants Additional Protections Against Spills from the Keystone XL Pipeline
Safety Measures for the Keystone XL Rejected by Environmentalists in Nebraska
State Department Hearings for the Keystone XL Pipeline
Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Protest
Keystone XL Protest Ends in Washington
Nobel Prize Laureates Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline
Religious Leaders Join the Protest Against Keystone XL Pipeline
Video – Van Jones Attacks the Keystone XL Pipeline
US Protests Against the Tar Sands Oil
Canada on Track to be a Dirty Energy Superpower
Bill McKibben and other Protestors Jailed for their Opposition to the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline
Video: NASA’s Leading Climatologist Addresses Crowd Before he was Arrested at the Keystone XL Tar Sands Protest in Washington