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It’s not about the pipeline itself, or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s about bringing new and GHG-intensive carbon sources online.

Feb 13, 2012

Dear Senators Reid and McConnell, and Representatives Boehner and Pelosi,

We are researchers at work on the science of climate change and allied fields. Last summer, we called on President Obama to block the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada’s tar sands. We were gratified to see that he did so, and since some in Congress are seeking to revive this plan, we wanted to restate the case against it.

The tar sands are a huge pool of carbon, one that it does not make sense to exploit. It takes a lot of energy and water to extract and refine this resource into useable fuel, and the mining is environmentally destructive. Adding this on top of conventional fossil fuels will leave our children and grandchildren a climate system with consequences that are out of their control. It makes no sense to build a pipeline that would dramatically increase exploitation of this resource.

When other huge oil fields or coal mines were opened in the past, we knew much less about the damage that the carbon they contained would do to the earth’s climate and its oceans. Now that we do know, it’s imperative that we move quickly to alternate forms of energy—and that we leave the tar sands in the ground.

We can say categorically that this pipeline is not in the nation’s, or the planet’s best interest.

Sincerely,

James Hansen, Research Scientist, The International Research Institute for Climate and Society, The Earth Institute, Columbia University
John Abraham, Associate Professor, School of Engineering, University of St. Thomas
Jason Box, Associate Professor, Department of Geography Atmospheric Sciences Program, Researcher at Byrd Polar Research CenterThe Ohio State University
Ken Caldeira, Senior Scientist, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution
Peter Gleick, President and Co-founder Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security
Richard A. Houghton, Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center
Ralph Keeling, Director, Scripps CO2 Program Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Michael MacCracken, Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs Climate Institute
Michael E. Mann, Professor of Meteorology Director, Earth System Science Center, The Pennsylvania State University
James McCarthy, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University
Michael Oppenheimer, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School and Department of Geosciences, Princeton University
Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, Louis Block Professor in the Geophysical Sciences, The University of Chicago
Steve Running, Professor of Ecology, Director of Numerical Terradynamics Simulation Group, Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana
Richard Somerville, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
George M. Woodwell, Founder, Director Emeritus, and Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center

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