Anti-Keystone XL Pipeline Groups Calling on Sen. Bob Nelson to Vote Against Pipeline

Environmental groups made up of 350 South Florida, 350.org, Sierra Club, and CREDO will hold a news conference outside of Florida Sen. Bill Nelson's office Monday to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.

Congress is a mere four votes away from passing a bill that would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Nelson, 350 says, has remained on the fence as to weather he'd vote for the pipeline to be built.

While President Obama has delayed any decisions on the pipeline over the last couple of years, Keystone XL has had some support in the Florida Legislature. Rep. Mike Hill of Pensacola has proposed a House bill urging the president to consider the approval of the construction of the Keystone Pipeline.

See also: President Obama Greeted by Animal Costume-Wearing Keystone XL Pipeline Protesters

The U.S. Senate is expected to hold a binding vote this week that would force approval of the pipeline, bypassing Obama's delays.

But 350.org and the other environmental groups contend that the pipeline would be a disaster.

If built, the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline would transport oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, all the way down to refineries in Texas. And while the pipeline would not be placed anywhere in Florida, 350 says the state's environment will be negatively affected.

The pipeline would create jobs, proponents for Keystone say.

But the environmental groups disagree.

"From what we understand, these jobs are not long-term," 350 South Florida treasurer and Broward College student Giovanni Bonelli tells New Times. "There aren't many long-term jobs associated with Keystone. Maybe some construction and labor jobs, but nothing that will last."

Pipelines can be vulnerable to leaks, which have potential to wreak havoc on the environment. Historically, pipelines have had their share of ruptures over the years.

A leak in a pipeline the size of Keystone has the potential to be a BP-like disaster, environmentalists fear.

Not to mention the overall harm it can do to the environment.

"The pipeline will be bringing in corrosive tar sands," Bonelli says, "and will contribute to climate change and damage sea levels, which is something that will directly affect Florida."

This past March, a coalition of environmental groups held a rally just outside former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning's home when he hosted President Obama for a fundraiser.

Members from groups like 350 South Florida, the Center for Biological Diversity, 350.org, the Sierra Club South Florida, CREDO, and other pro-climate groups led protesters in chants urging Obama to "Say No to the Keystone XL Pipeline."

Some protesters held up signs, while others dressed in animal costumes.

In a news release sent out Monday, 350 says that 56 senators who support the bill have taken a total of $21 million from the oil industry.

So the group is hoping that the presser outside of Sen. Nelson's Miami office will nudge him in the right direction.

"Sen. Nelson to come out strong against Keystone XL to send a signal to big oil that attempting to push the pipeline through Congress won't work," the release says. "Big oil's senators want to use a legal back door to force approval of the pipeline, and they're going to pour on the pressure between now and the vote, which could be as soon as Tuesday.

The news conference is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday outside of Nelson's Coral Gables office, located at 2925 Salzedo St. in Coral Gables.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph