Keystone XL is bad for public health and must be rejected

To: President Obama

Keystone XL is bad for public health and must be rejected
134,390
of 200,000 signatures
Campaign created by Jean Ross Icon-email


Any project that places the health and safety of Americans at substantial risk cannot be in our national interest. I urge you to reject the Keystone XL pipeline due to the adverse health effects it would have, both on U.S. residents and people around the globe.

Why is this important?

Registered nurses know you can't have healthy patients without a healthy planet.

In my 40 years as a registered nurse, I've witnessed the devastating effect environmental pollution has had on children and families up close. And it's getting worse.

I've seen an alarming rise in asthma affecting small infants and people who don't have a history of respiratory ailments, and increasing cases of leukemia and other cancers linked to air and water pollution. Why would we want to make it worse?

From mining to transport to refining, dirty tar sands oil has already been linked to cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, genetic damage, and birth defects. That's why nurses oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.

If approved, the Keystone XL pipeline would increase global greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbate the climate crisis, leading to countless threats to our health. Higher air temperatures can increase bacteria-related food poisoning, such as salmonella, and animal-borne diseases such as West Nile virus.

Ground level ozone contaminants, which are increased by high temperatures, can damage lung tissue, reduce lung function, and increase respiratory ailments. Pediatricians have said they are already witnessing a rise in vector-borne diseases including diarrhea, cholera, gastroenteritis, typhoid, and hepatitis due to climate change.

Tar sands pipeline spills are also a significant concern. The 2010 Kalamazoo River spill in Michigan – the effects of which are still being felt by that community – resulted in inhalation of benzene and other chemicals and more than 150 cases of illness. Michigan’s Department of Public Health identified cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological, ocular, dermal and respiratory impacts.

Similarly, following a 2013 spill near Mayflower, Arkansas, residents reported persistent coughs, headaches, nausea, and respiratory problems for months after the spill took place.

Refining raw bitumen from the tar sands would also make people sick. Tar sands contains up to 11 times more sulfur than conventional crude oil with high levels of sulfur compounds linked to serious ailments of the nervous and respiratory systems. Residents of Southeast Texas, particularly refinery towns like Port Arthur and Houston, already live in known ‘cancer zones.’ Refining raw bitumen from the tar sands threatens to make a bad situation worse.

The dire public health consequences of Keystone XL were largely ignored in the State Department’s final environmental impact statement.

Join us in demanding that President Obama reject Keystone XL due to the threats it poses to public health in the United States, Canada and across the globe.

-- By Jean Ross, RN, Co-president, National Nurses United

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