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Silicon Valley's Elite Comes Out Against the Keystone XL

Oil sands mining at the Muskeg River Mine at the Albian Sands Oil Sands project near Fort McMurray, Alberta
Oil sands mining at the Muskeg River Mine at the Albian Sands Oil Sands project near Fort McMurray, AlbertaPhotograph by Canadian Press via AP Photo

In a March 7 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that was made public on Monday, more than 200 business owners, venture capitalists, and the odd Stanford B-school professor have asserted that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is not in the economic interests of the U.S. Over its lifetime, the 875-mile extension linking Alberta tar sands to refineries and tankers in the Gulf of Mexico would cost billions more than it brings in, the letter states, and “these costs will be borne by U.S. citizens, businesses and taxpayers, while the profits from the pipeline will accrue to private corporations many of which are foreign interests.”

Sent by Washington-based Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), the letter refutes the State Department’s recent report (PDF) suggesting that the tar sands will be developed with or without the Keystone XL and carbon emissions from the extraction and consumption of its oil reserves will thereby be negligibly higher with the pipeline in place. E2′s business leaders contend that the lower transportation costs of the Keystone XL are critical—if not indispensable—to the tar sands development plans, and they note that tar sands developers themselves are on record as saying as much. “Markets rely on both price and policy signals when making investment decisions,” the letter states. “While increasing prices for crude oil have driven interest in further development of tar sands, this development is not inevitable without continued high prices and policy support.”