There is no bigger issue for the environmental movement right now than the Keystone XL Pipeline, a 3,400-mile pipe that would transport oil extracted from the tar sands in northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Because the pipeline would span two countries, the decision of whether or not to approve the Keystone pipeline ultimately rests in the hands of President Obama, and he has given no indication that he will oppose the pipeline. The public comment period for the pipeline ends today, April 22nd (Earth Day), and we urge you to send a personalized message to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry asking them to reject the pipeline.

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The Keystone XL Pipeline isn’t just a symbolic piece of infrastructure; it would be a blow to the fight against climate change. If it is built, the Keystone Pipeline will give the green light to ultimately burn an additional 240 billion tons of carbon. In the words of NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen, that would mean “game over” for the climate, and it would likely send the planet on a warming trend that would ultimately make it inhospitable to human life. As Hansen explained in a New York Times column last year, “Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.”

But that isn’t the only reason to be concerned about the pipeline. As proven by the recent oil spill that left an Arkansas town inundated with oil, transporting tar sands oil is very dangerous – and it would likely result in catastrophic oil spills in the country’s heartland. Tar sands oil isn’t your typical crude; the stuff that’s being transported is very thick tar sands diluted bitumen, and the pipelines used to transport it are operated at high temperatures in order to keep it moving. That leads to a higher risk of corrosion, which often causes oil spills.

The federal government is downplaying the importance of the pipeline, though. Last month, the State Department published a widely-criticized report that suggests that the pipeline would have no significant impact on the environment. So now it’s your turn to tell the president what you think about the pipeline. The Sierra Club has created a handy form that you can use to send a personalized message to President Obama and Secretary Kerry. After receiving them, the State Department has said that it will publish all of the public comments on a website.

Via The Sierra Club

Lead photo by Elvert Barnes