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Industry rationale for the Tar Sands Oil Pipeline a Lie

September 22, 2011

In recent weeks there has been more debate about the Keystone crude oil pipeline that is being proposed from Western Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Most of the attention came from the mass civil disobedience campaign in late August/early September in Washington, DC in an attempt to send a strong message to the US government that such a pipeline would be disastrous for the environment and indigenous people.

Those who have been promoting or endorsing the Keystone tar sands pipeline have argued that one of the main benefits of such a project is that it will allow the US to rely less on foreign oil. However, a new report from Oil Change International exposes that justification as a lie.

The new report, entitled Exporting Energy Security: Keystone XL Exposed, found that:

  • Keystone XL is an export pipeline. The Port Arthur, Texas, refiners at the end of its route are focused on expanding exports to Europe, and Latin America. Much of the fuel refined from the pipeline’s heavy crude oil will never reach U.S. drivers’ tanks.
  • Valero, the key customer for crude oil from Keystone XL, has explicitly detailed an export strategy to its investors. Because Valero’s Port Arthur refinery is in a Foreign Trade Zone, the company can carry out its strategy tax-free.
  • In a shrinking U.S. market, Keystone XL is not needed. Since the project was announced, the oil industry acknowledges that higher fuel economy standards and slow economic growth mean declining U.S. oil demand, even as domestic production is booming. Oil from Keystone XL will therefore displace American crude from new, “unconventional” domestic fields in Texas or North Dakota.

Oil Change International Director Stephen Kretzmann noted, “To issue a presidential permit for the Keystone XL, the Administration must find that the pipeline serves the national interest. An honest assessment shows that rather than serving U.S. interests, Keystone XL serves only the interests of tar sands producers and shippers, and a few Gulf Coast refiners aiming to export the oil.”

However, we know that big oil is one of the main contributors to electoral politics and you can bet they are buying influence to make sure the Keystone pipeline goes through. You can track which oil companies are giving money and to whom at

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