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Nurses Demand State Dept. Certify that Keystone XL Will Not Have Adverse Health Effects
by National Nurses United
Friday Mar 14th, 2014 2:18 PM
The nation’s largest U.S. organization of nurses today called on Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama Administration to issue a finding that the Keystone XL “will not adversely impact the health and safety of the American people” prior to any final decision on the controversial project.
Leaders of National Nurses United sent the formal request today to Secretary of State Kerry, and issued the public letter in a Washington press conference convened by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The NNU letter endorses a similar request made by Sen. Boxer and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.

In its letter, NNU said it concurs with Boxer and Whitehouse that the State Department has done inadequate review of what appears to be serious risks for public health posed by the pipeline and the dirty tar sands oil it would carry.

Noting that the State Department must make a national interest determination on whether to approve the pipeline, NNU said that it believes that “a project that places the health and safety of Americans at substantial risk cannot possibly be in our national interest. “

NNU is inviting others to join them in petitioning the State Department to conduct a health impact study prior to acting on the pipeline. The nurses also released a new short video titled “Don’t Pipeline My Patients.” Both the petition and video are available on the NNU website, at

NNU announced its opposition to Keystone in early 2013, citing harmful health hazards then emerging with tar sands oil, tar sands pipeline spills, and tar sands refining, as well as for the long term contribution tar sands and Keystone add to the climate crisis.

“In the year since we first declared our opposition, more reports have surfaced that should raise serious alarm about the health impacts of Keystone,” said NNU Co-President Karen Higgins, RN today.

Tar sands mining pollutants, for example, have been linked to cancer, leukemia, genetic damage, and birth defects.

Tar sands pipeline spills in Michigan and Arkansas have beset local residents with cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological, and respiratory impacts, as well as persistent coughs, headaches, nausea, eye and skin problems, said Higgins.

Tar sands refining has been linked to serious ailments of the nervous and respiratory systems. NNU is also concerned about toxic dust storms that have threatened neighborhoods and accumulated in homes and areas where children play in Chicago and Detroit, Higgins added.

NNU is also concerned about the long term contribution that tar sands oil and the Keystone pipeline will make to the global rise on greenhouse gas emissions and the climate crisis – and the growing adverse health issues inflamed by climate change.

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 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 environmental factors and the effects of climate change.

For several years NNU has been dispatching teams of RN volunteers to provide disaster relief in response to weather disasters, such as Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, and most recently Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, all of which many experts believe are fueled by climate change. “Our members have provided care for thousands of patients who have suffered serious injuries as well as the loss of family members, their homes, and their livelihoods,” Higgins noted.

“Nurses and our families are also affected by environmental pollution, and have much at stake if Keystone XL is given the green light,” Higgins concluded. “It is for our patients, our members, our families, and our communities that we speak out, and call on the Administration to order an immediate health impact study and not authorize a pipeline that will harm our planet and our health.”

March 13, 2014

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Freed
Saturday Mar 15th, 2014 3:09 PM
There are many good reasons to say "no" to Keystone. It will not create the jobs claimed for it, nor will it reduce prices at the pump. It threatens water supplies in measures that would make the BP spill seem mild.
But most importantly, the IEA estimates that Keystone would harvest 3 times the carbon that would take us over 2 degrees C, the absolute limit for a catastrophe we might survive, if we're lucky.

See: "IEA acknowledges fossil fuel reserves climate crunch"
We are of warned of a potential climate abyss by our most trusted messengers, such as NOAA, NASA, the Royal Academy of UK (SIr Isaac Newton was president), National Academy of Sciences (Einstein was a member) the very conservative World Bank, National Geographic, Scientific American, the IMF. We are told of current disastrous health effects by the 
American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health Organization and the AMA.
We cannot rely on State Department assessments, if made by employees of the carbon industries.

And Keystone would eventually strip forests the size of Florida, forests that might have absorbed enormous quantities of CO2 before they were removed as "overburden".
Would Keystone "replace" those forests? They say they would repair any
 damage, right? Laughable.
Even 2 degrees itself may be too high - a "prescription for disaster"
says Dr. James Hansen, chief climatologist at NASA (ret.), one who, early on, predicted many of the catastrophic effects that we have seen.
Many of us know the bitter taste of the weird weather out there, with just current warming of .8 deg C. Shall we roll the dice for our kids and grand kids, saying "let it ride!" beyond 2 degrees and more? More, and we might invite abrupt, irreversible changes.
No, taking your kids to to Disney World does not make up for that.
With its high risks and low return, Keystone XL is not a smart gamble.