Press Release

Nurses Welcome TransCanada Decision to Suspend Permit Bid for Keystone XL Pipeline Project

National Nurses United late today welcomed the announcement that TransCanada is suspending its U.S. application for approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a project NNU, the nation’s largest nurses organization, has opposed for nearly three years as an significant threat to public health as well as for its role in accelerating the climate crisis.

“Today’s announcement is a reminder of the power of public protest by tens of thousands of environmental justice and climate activists, First Nation members, ranchers, nurses and social activists across the U.S. and Canada who have raised public awareness about the threat posed by the pipeline,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN.

“With the approach of the Paris summit on confronting the climate crisis, it’s time to make clear this project should not be revived. We should use the moment to step up other efforts to stem the many adverse effects of climate change as well as the serious health consequences of projects like Keystone,” Ross added.

NNU also praised the leadership role of Sen. Bernie Sanders who has long opposed Keystone. “His outspoken public advocacy on the issue, in joining with activists who have worked to stop Keystone, has helped raise the public debate on Keystone in the Presidential campaign, and encouraged others to also oppose the project,” Ross said.

NNU first announced its opposition to Keystone in February, 2013 citing a significant impact on the health of communities in the tar sands production areas along its route and communities where the heavy sour crude will be processed, in addition to its contributions to climate change.

“Nurses care for patients every day who struggle with health crises aggravated by environmental pollution in its many forms,” said Ross. “As a society we need to reduce the effects of environmental factors, including climate change, that are making people sick, and endangering the future for our children.”

In the past three years, NNU members have participated in numerous protests and other actions across the country, including a press conference with Sen. Barbara Boxer on Capitol Hill about the health hazards associated with KXL and a KXL protest walk across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, sponsored by NNU, in June 2013.

Tar sands, the dirty oil at the center of the Keystone project, mining pollutants 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. Tar sands refining has been linked to serious ailments of the nervous and respiratory systems.

Exploitation of tar sands, climate scientists have noted, would make it implausible to stabilize climate and avoid disastrous global climate impacts.