Scientists: Backing Keystone pipeline would ‘undermine’ Obama’s climate legacy

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Environmentalists are pressing the White House to scuttle TransCanada Corp.’s proposed pipeline to bring oil from Canadian oil sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.

They oppose Keystone due to greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands production and use, damage to forests from the massive projects and fears of spills along the route.

Business groups and a number of major unions are pressing the White House to approve Keystone. They call it a way to create jobs and improve energy security by strengthening ties to Canada, which is already the biggest supplier of oil to the U.S.

The letter, organized by the environmental group 350.org, cites recently unveiled federal data showing that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous U.S.

“You take office for the second time at a critical moment. As you may know, the U.S. has just recorded the hottest year in its history, beating the old mark by a full degree; the same year that saw the deep Midwest drought, and the fury of Hurricane Sandy, also witnessed the rapid and unprecedented melt of the Arctic ice pack,” they write.

The State Department is weighing whether to grant TransCanada a permit for the project, but Obama has indicated that he will ultimately be the decider on Keystone.