By attaching provisions in favor of a gigantic tar sands oil pipeline to the payroll tax cut legislation, Congress seems intent on putting Maryland's coasts in peril.
The Keystone XL pipeline, which is proposed to run from Alberta in Canada to Texas, would not only put vast areas in the West in danger of oil spills, it would also harm coastal states by accelerating fuel exploitation and global warming.
The University of Maryland has found that Maryland is among the states most vulnerable to rising sea levels from climate change. While the U.S. Navy is taking the pragmatic approach and is examining the risk from rising sea levels to its installations across the globe, many in Congress would like to pretend that climate change can be talked away with rhetoric borrowed from their fossil fuel industry donors.
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta has particularly strong lobbyist backing, so it isn't surprising that many politicians fail to mention how the consumption of dirty tar sands oil poses a risk to our climate, welfare and national security.
The congressional proponents of the pipeline claim that enough assessments have been conducted to predict the environmental impact of the pipeline. In a way, they are right: For more than 20 years, assessments of climate science have shown the risks from fossil fuel consumption.
To the president's credit, he has indicated that he might have to reject the pipeline if forced by Congress to make a swift decision. Let us hope that the commander in chief remains true to his word.
Nils Petermann, Washington