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Update: Mayor Cites BP Oil Spill in Signing Letter vs. Canada Pipeline

OK of $7 billion Keystone XL project, hit by left and right, has been delayed, pending federal review.

Updated at 4:40 p.m. Friday

Mayor Art Madrid has joined 102 other U.S. mayors opposing a Canada-to-Texas pipeline expected to cost $7 billion, signing a letter to President Barack Obama critical of the so-called Keystone XL project.

Noting the BP oil spill of 2010, Madrid told La Mesa Patch: “We already had one disaster—the deepwater drilling project in the Gulf of Mexico. There, too, all safety precautions were guaranteed; the rest is history. If we didn't learn from that disastrous event, we’re doomed to repeat it again.”

State Department officials last week called a timeout on the project, saying they would use the pause to find a route for the pipeline away from Nebraska’s Sand Hills.

The New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group behind the letter dated Nov. 16, said:

“The mayors’ letter demonstrates the widespread support that exists in communities across the country for rejecting the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It also underscores the importance of carrying out a new, in-depth review of the project that includes a careful look at the project’s impact on our nation’s climate change goals.”

The group said the mayors thank Obama for the new review, “but remain convinced that a full, fair review can yield only one answer: This pipeline is not in the nation’s best interest.”

The letter was signed by mayors from 28 states, including 10 state capitals, representing a combined population of more than 9 million people, said the group.

Madrid was the only San Diego County mayor to sign the letter—along with the mayors of 24 other California cities, including Sacramento, Berkeley, Santa Monica and Pasadena.

Madrid said he received a request to sign the letter at his City Hall office, and put his name to this one as he has to others, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ climate change letter.

“As a member of the National League of Cities’ Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, I have been monitoring this proposed project for some time,” he said Friday afternoon via email.

“I brought it up for discussion in our committee meeting and they supported my resolution, so when the request came from other mayors to sign the letter, I fully understood their fear and concern.”

He noted the pipeline’s proposed path “through very sensitive habitat, pristine aquifers and other environmental irreplaceable areas.”

Most worrisome to him was its proximity to the famous New Madrid earthquake fault line, named for the monster earthquakes of 1811-12 centered in Missouri that changed the flow of the Mississippi River.

“The potential for disaster when another massive earthquake occurs will cause untold damage,” Madrid said. “This fault line issue, in my opinion, has not been appropriately addressed.”

Madrid said he didn’t consult the council before signing the letter “because I don't have to! Each individual council member can write, on their own behalf, a letter of support, or oppose, any cause they deem worthy or unworthy.”

He noted that the entire council knows how he feels about environmental issues.

“While it may not be their cup of tea,” he said, “I choose to get engaged when appropriate.”

The mayors' letter says: “Expansion of high carbon fuels such as tar sands undermine hard work by local communities everywhere to fight climate change, reduce dependence on oil, and create a clean energy future.”

In a blog post Wednesday, Susan Casey-Lefkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council said: “Mayors are at the frontlines of reducing our dependence on oil and have been working to create a more efficient system because they take climate change seriously.”

The letter (attached) “asks for a comprehensive review of the greenhouse gas impacts from this high carbon project, and a general evaluation of how the project will affect local community efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, ratchet down carbon emissions and fight climate change,” Casey-Lefkowitz said.

A Washington Post blog post noted the odd bedfellows nature of the opposition:

President Obama’s decision to delay a final ruling on the “tar sands” pipeline from Canada to Texas has been cheered by environmentalists as a rare victory—and it is. But it’s also a rare product of a coalition between conservationists and conservatives in red states.

Environmentalists oppose the project because of the energy-intensive, pollution-creating oil extraction. Conservatives and tea party activists are worried about the use of eminent domain, or the government’s ability to take private property, to build a pipeline for a foreign company. And both sides are concerned about oil leaking into aquifers that supply Texas and the Plains states.

TransCanada, the force behind the proposed 1,661-mile pipeline, reportedly had planned to begin construction in January 2012.

Earlier this month, an estimated 10,000 people staged a Sunday protest outside the White House calling on Obama to reject the pipeline.

Madrid apparently signed the letter without consulting the City Council. No reference to Keystone XL appears in any recent council agenda. But Madrid is active in several mayors groups, including the National League of Cities.

Madrid also has served on the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Committee.

Madrid helped launch the city’s Environmental Sustainability Commission about three years ago.

“Art has served as chair of the San Diego Association of Governments, SANDAG,” says his city of La Mesa biography. “He also serves on state board of the League of California Cities and was president of the San Diego Division of the league. He has served as president of the California Council of Governments, CALCOG, which represents all 478 cities and 58 counties in the state.”

Batman November 18, 2011 at 03:37 PM
Well, Art does like riding bicycles.
Things I Learned November 18, 2011 at 04:08 PM
When the fate of our precious Earth hangs in the balance, it is entirely appropriate for an elected official to sign letters in his official rather than personal capacity without consulting other elected officials who might slow things down with "questions" or "concerns". Somebody must make it clear that it is only through our grace that Canadian oil currently reaches Cushing, Oklahoma, and that we are TAKING A STAND! (TM) before their dirty dirty oil mixes with pure American crude and reaches our refineries in Port Arthur, Texas to make more jobs that Rick Perry can take credit for. Economics does not posit a world of scarcity and limited, competing choices, so stopping the pipeline doesn't mean Canada will just sell the oil to China while we continue to buy from OPEC countries like Iran, Angola, Nigeria and Venezuela. There will be no environmental cost to increased tanker shipments and no geopolitical ramification to maintaining our dependence on foreign energy sources. We should continue to use American coal and heavy crude until something better comes along for us to oppose, like nuclear. Clean energy is the fuel of the future and always will be. 38˚ 59' OR FIGHT!
Kevin George November 18, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Here is what irks me about any of these " resolutions" being endorsed by our City government or in this case the mayor alone. "The letter was signed by mayors from 28 states, including 10 state capitals, representing a combined population of more than 9 million people, said the group. So the mayor took it upon himself to speak for all 60,000 of us without any conversation about our opinion on the matter.
David Chiodo November 18, 2011 at 08:28 PM
I congratulate the mayor Art Madrid of La Mesa, to oppose the pipeline & his support of president Obama. He speaks for himself, which is a demonstration that politicians can still have a voice without fear of retribution from his affiliated party or voters! The problem with representatives of government, is they fear to express their points of view or ideas.
Batman November 18, 2011 at 09:36 PM
Do you folks like to eat? When was the last time you saw a solar-powered freight train? Or a pedal-powered semi truck? Are any in the design stages? The starving people in Africa are lacking more than just food, they are lacking fossil fuel and the machinery that plants, harvests and transports food. All the things you fools take for granted. And no, I don't believe in global warming or sea level rise, and I don't believe the Koch brothers are evil men.
Robert Johnson November 18, 2011 at 09:39 PM
Just four days after the State Department bowed to pressure from green groups and ordered TransCanada to find a new route, the company took the action that many were surprised it had not taken earlier by tweaking the XL alignment to mitigate the impact on the vast Ogallala Aquifer, which is concentrated in Nebraska, but sprawls over 164,000 square miles of six states and is a vital groundwater source for the U.S. Midwest. http://www.petroleumnews.com/pntruncate/825926407.shtml
Selina Forte November 18, 2011 at 11:19 PM
You are incorrect in your assumptions about Africa. http://www.scienceinafrica.co.za/2002/november/energy.htm http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/25/science/earth/25fossil.html?pagewanted=all http://www.acp-eucourier.info/Energias-fosseis-a.182.0.html%3F%2526L%3D0
Batman November 18, 2011 at 11:32 PM
Africa does have an ample supply of fossil fuels, just as we do. All they need to do is take full advantage of it, as we have for the last 100 years.
Robert Johnson November 18, 2011 at 11:39 PM
The problem in Africa is most of the countries have corrupt leaders who export the resources to the rest of the world to fund their lavish lifestyles, while their people starve.
Batman November 18, 2011 at 11:43 PM
You hit the nail on the head. Just what Obama is doing to us right now.
Scott H. Kidwell November 18, 2011 at 11:43 PM
I sent the President a letter to let him know that the Mayor of La Mesa does not speak for me on this issue!
Scott H. Kidwell November 19, 2011 at 01:38 AM
The letter is carefully crafted so as to be from only the respective individuals who happen to be mayoral leaders of communities. That people will interpret the letter as being representative on the constituency of the signers is surly not lost on those signers. However, elected officials may support or oppose any political issue and are also free to use their official title in doing so as long as they do not use public resources or taxpayer money in the endeavor. And as our mayor was quoted "Each individual council member can write, on their own behalf, a letter of support, or oppose, any cause they deem worthy or unworthy.”
Things I Learned November 19, 2011 at 02:36 AM
1. Scott: Point taken. But... "We write you today as local government leaders..." combined with self-identification as "the Mayors' Letter" trades on their official status and is deceptive. 2. Robert: No denying TransCanada should have done this in the first place instead of being bullies. 3. Ken: Most opposition from the right is about eminent domain threats, not environmental. 4. Art: Equating an easily inspected and repaired land based pipeline and a deepwater oil rig is not at all an apples and footballs comparison that has no bearing on the question of propriety being discussed. It is not at all the case that while we await a bright shiny future awash in unicorns and rainbows that we will now require more oil from hotspots around the world nor that we will continue to overextend militarily nor that the tar sand oil will now be sold to China where pollution controls are negligible nor that the jet stream spread that pollution across the continental US when it could have been contained at the source here nor that our increased demand will incentivise risky drilling by countries with spotty environmental records nor that America sure could have used the high paying jobs the project would create nor that should Obama be reelected he will probably approve the project anyway so thanks for the extra year of poverty. 5. Chris Stone (comment deleted) What, and quit my day job? You should not use fake names. ;-)
Robert Johnson November 19, 2011 at 03:06 AM
Keystone XL is shovel-ready. TransCanada is poised to put 13,000 Americans to work to construct the pipeline - pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators, among other jobs. Looks like more shovel ready jobs than the trillion dollars Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ! Unemployment is still high and almost no GDP growth, what recovery ? http://www.transcanada.com/keystone.html
Scott H. Kidwell November 19, 2011 at 04:32 AM
I would not disagree if one were to define signers of the aforementioned letter as politicians under this definition. Pol-i-ti-cian, noun (4.) a person who seeks advancement or power within an organization by dubious means.
Scott H. Kidwell November 19, 2011 at 04:47 AM
In 2007, the Western Climate Initiative was formed by seven States and four Canadian provinces, in order to develop a regional cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme. This week, Arizona became the sixth State (after New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Utah) to withdraw from the WCI. In a statement, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality said the State acted to “[avoid] the economic costs to industries that are subject to cap and trade.” California is the only remaining American participant.
Janet Mercer-Grey November 19, 2011 at 03:06 PM
The Building and Construction Trades Department (BCDT) of the American Federation of Labour-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) announced Thursday November 17 2011its Canadian affiliate “unreservedly” supports the Keystone XL pipeline, which TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) of Calgary claims will create 20,000 construction jobs in the United States.
Scott H. Kidwell November 19, 2011 at 03:34 PM
102 mayors from cities nationwide signed the letter? California alone has around 475 charter or general law municipalities according to the US Census. And with over 300 million residents if the claim is the mayors were actually representing their constituents, that is only about 3% of the population as for being against the project.
Jerome from Layton November 20, 2011 at 04:40 AM
You hit the proverbial nail on the head. Notice the pattern? If something actually works, figure out a way to stop it or delay it. The BHO administration did the latter by sending it to a "study" commission that won't reply for over a year. Meanwhile, if it just drains the economy and does no good (Solyndra), go ahead and do it right away! This action (or contrived inaction) will actually increase the carbon foot print because the oil will be transported (= carbon consumed) to other places where it will be used anyway. Just because California is cutting off its own sources doesn't mean the rest of us have to suffer.
Jerome from Layton November 20, 2011 at 04:45 AM
Thanks for the information. As for Arizona, notice it is now run by a capable manager while the former Governor is now running a mass (censored) operation at our airports.
Jerome from Layton November 20, 2011 at 04:51 AM
Actually, that pipeline should have been approved a couple years ago. Oil is so fungible that an increase of supplies to our central region will reduce prices in California. This action will result in the return of $4 (or more) gasoline to California as well as sticking it to the rest of us. Your Mayor rides a bicycle? Reminds me of my prior life in the Peoples Republic of Davis.
Things I Learned November 20, 2011 at 05:20 AM
Mercedes makes bicycles?
Janet Mercer-Grey November 20, 2011 at 05:47 AM
The Mayor will never likely ride a bicycle. When it comes being personally green he is long on wind and short on action.
Things I Learned November 20, 2011 at 06:03 AM
So you support the mayor talking at windmills? :-)
Janet Mercer-Grey November 20, 2011 at 06:55 PM
102 mayor signed? The US conference of Mayors has nearly1300 member cities of over 30K population and the National League of Cities has over 1600 dues paying member cities. No other mayors in San Diego County Signed the letter.

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