PORTLAND — This is in response to Charles Krauthammer’s column “Obama puts his own interests first” (Nov. 20), regarding the Keystone XL pipeline.

If built, the 1,700-mile pipeline would transport 35 million gallons of oil every day from Alberta, Canada’s tar sands — one of the dirtiest energy sources in the world — to refineries in Texas.

It would threaten 20 imperiled species and destroy pristine wildlife habitat that’s home to endangered plants, such as the western prairie fringed orchid.

Approval lies with the state department and President Obama. Over 1,000 XL Pipeline protesters were arrested earlier in 2011 and in November, 12,000 people circled the White House, urging President Obama to reject this disastrous project.

The proposed pipeline crosses 340 perennial water bodies and risks contaminating the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water for millions of Americans as well as threatening Nebraska’s Sandhills, the largest intact natural habitat left in the Great Plains ecosystem.

Plus, producing oil from tar sands will destroy tens of thousands of acres of boreal forest in Alberta and will pollute of hundreds of millions of gallons of water from the Athabasca River because each barrel of oil produced, requires three barrels of water. 

Since June 2010, an existing pipeline, Keystone 1, has already leaked 14 times including one that dumped 21,000 gallons of tar-sands crude. Other pipelines have also spilled, such as the one in the Kalamazoo River in 2010 that leaked 800,000 gallons. So before Krauthammer blames President Obama for the delay, look around to those who care about the environment.