of this map can be found here.
The protests are being organized by CREDO, the Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club, with support from 350.org, The Other 98%, Center for Biological Diversity, Oil Change International, Bold Nebraska, the Energy Action Coalition, the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Hip Hop Caucus, the Overpass Light Brigade, Environmental Action, the League of Conservation Voters, the Waterkeeper Alliance, Friends of the Earth, Forest Ethics, Forecast the Facts and many other of the 550 organizations that have voiced public opposition to the pipeline.
Since 2008, Keystone XL has been avidly pursued by builder TransCanada and heavy-weights in the oil industry, including Koch Industries, which controls about 6 percent of the Athabasca Tar Sands of Alberta. It is petroleum extracted from that formation that would feed the pipeline, which is designed to carry 830,000 barrels a day through the heart of the United States to the Gulf Coast refineries of Texas.
That petroleum—bitumen, transported as diluted bitumen, or dilbit—generates 17 percent more carbon emissions when it is extracted, refined and burned than do conventional sources of oil, according to the SEIS. That makes it some of the dirtiest oil on the planet. There are, according to some estimates, 1.7 trillion barrels of oil in the tar sands, with 170 billion barrels considered to be recoverable by current techniques.
Obama rejected the first proposed Keystone XL route, citing problems with the routing through wetlands in Nebraska. But he made clear that TransCanada could reapply, which it soon did with an modestly adjusted route. Two months after he rejected the original route for the northern leg, Obama fast-tracked the southern leg of the pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Nederland, Texas. That leg is now up and running.
The State Department's SEIS concedes that “the total direct and indirect emissions” of the pipeline “would contribute to cumulative global GHG emissions.” But it states that is “unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction in oil sands areas." That because it buys into the argument that railroads and other pipelines will provide the needed transportation to move the tar sands petroleum. But, 10 months ago, a report by Reuters concluded that railroads would not be able to substitute for the pipeline.
Many critiques of the SEIS, which amounts to the third draft of the impact statement on the 1,179-mile northern leg of the 36-inch pipeline, view it as an industry-dictated sham. But several also say it contains all the facts the president needs to reject it. Under an executive order rooted in the 1960s, pipelines, bridges, tunnels and tramways that cross international boundaries require a special presidential permit that is supposed to be decided on the basis of whether a project is in the "national interest."
Before that decision is made, the process requires a 90-day review by eight federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, which found the two previous impact statements on the pipeline to be wanting. In addition, starting Feb. 5, there will be a 30-day public comment period. Some 1.2 million public comments were submitted during the previous comment period.