Congressman Mike Simpson’s rather non-responsive reply to my email citing inaccuracies in his characterization of Canadian tar sands and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry that corrosive sludge across America’s farming heartland:
June 6, 2013
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. I appreciate hearing from you and having the opportunity to respond.
As you know, the House recently voted on H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, which would eliminate the need for a Presidential Permit, and find that the Final Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Secretary of State on August 26, 2011, shall satisfy all environmental review requirements. It passed the House by a vote of 241-145, and will now move to the Senate for further consideration. I supported H.R. 3 because I believe that moving forward with the permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline would create jobs and reduce our dependence on unstable foreign sources of oil, and I am disappointed that the President appears to be playing politics with our nation’s energy security.
Although we may not agree on this issue, I am glad that you have shared your comments regarding this issue with me. It is extremely helpful to me to know how proposed regulations and laws will impact Idahoans, and having your perspective is valuable to me. As this proposal moves forward, you can be confident that I will monitor this issue carefully and with your thoughts in mind.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact me about this issue. As your representative in Congress, it is important to me to know your thoughts and opinions about issues affecting our nation today. I also encourage you to visit my website, http://www.simpson.house.gov, to sign up for my e-newsletter and to read more about my views on a variety of issues.
Member of Congress
Is the congressman from Idaho playing politics with the environmental security of the breadbasket of our nation, or does it just appear that way?
In this morning last week’s email was my weekly newsletter from my US Representative, Mike Simpson: http://simpson.house.gov/news/email/show.aspx?ID=7X4XRG3CWNYTHDJNOCY5JW3C24
In it, he explained his support for HR 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, which circumvents the need for a presidential permit, “addresses all other necessary federal permits and limits legal challenges that could serve as further delays to the advancement of the project.”
Yellow: existing pipeline that spilled into Kalamazoo River.
I was moved to respond:
I am concerned about a number of factual misstatements in the Keystone XL Pipeline-HR 3 article in the newsletter I just received. You might want to have whoever drafted the Keystone article do a little more fact checking.
The substance being mined in Alberta has no resemblance to crude oil. It is more properly referred to as “tar sands” because it must be heavily processed before it can even flow in a pipeline. After that dirty, carbon-emitting process that wastes lots of other fossil fuel , what is then seeping through the pipeline is a caustic, water-fouling goo that doesn’t even float like oil. When a pipeline carrying tar oil ruptured in Michigan recently, it badly fouled the Kalamazoo River; so far, that clean-up has cost taxpayers $1 billion.
According to the State Dept., Keystone XL construction would provide 3,900 direct jobs, not 20,000. And if the pipeline were finished, it would provide only 35 US jobs.
Most misleading, however, is the claim that sending this pipe-eating goo across several major watersheds, the largest aquifer in North America and the heart of American farmland would have any effect on US energy independence. This stuff is destined for China. It’s just not worth the risk.
There is no benefit for Idahoans from the Keystone pipeline. It is so disappointing to see my congressman continually trying to undermine our environmental protections while taking campaign money from the very industries most threatening to our health and safety.
The following addendum is from a friend who grew up in Bakersfield, CA. His mother and sister still live there. He visits often and knows whereof he writes:
The Canadians are looking for some idiots to refine it. This is why they won’t refine it:
Ten years ago some Canadian groups were pushing pretty hard to get a nuclear reactor to produce the heat required to separate the tarry shit from the sands. Talk about value for your dollar!
Because tar sands oil is a heavy, low-quality form of crude, it requires extensive “upgrading” to be transformed into fuel. Refining tar sands crude creates far more air pollution in American communities that are already burdened with cancer and poor air quality as a result of oil industry activities. Tar sands oil contains, among other toxic metals, 11 times more sulfur and nickel, six times more nitrogen, and five times more lead than conventional crude oil. Heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons released in tar sands refining have been linked to pre-natal brain damage. Nitrogen oxides, along with volatile organic compounds released in tar sands refining are the principal causes of smog and ground-level ozone. Exposure to nitrogen oxides is a direct cause of asthma, emphysema and other lung diseases. With plans to triple refining and transportation of tar sands by 2015, there is no question that air pollution and health problems in communities from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast will increase. — Sierra Club http://www.sierraclub.org/dirtyfuels/tar-sands/faces/intro.aspx