“U.S. presidents are not empowered to write up proclamations that give Big Oil a free ride, and bypass our nation’s bedrock environmental laws written to protect our water, land, clean air, and a livable climate,” read the letter the groups sent to candidates in August. “You may recall that this same pipeline project was rejected in 2014 by President Obama, whose administration found it to be not in the U.S. national interest because it would significantly exacerbate our climate crisis.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who left the race last month after making the climate crisis the central focus of his campaign and influencing Warren and other contenders to adopt some of his proposals for their own plans, also signed the pledge.

The signers also agreed to direct all federal agencies to reject any project that would contribute to fossil fuel emissions or other factors that make the climate crisis worse, including pipeline construction.

The Keystone XL pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil 1,179 miles from Alberta, Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast. Tar sands oil spills are especially difficult to clean up, and even without spills the oil would causes major health risks to communities it runs through due to the buildup of chemicals and air pollution. The oil would cross over bodies of water and farm land, threatening the Ogallala Aquifer, which irrigates a third of U.S. farms and provides drinking water to millions of people. 

In addition to Biden, high-profile candidates including Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, and Beto O’Rourke have not yet pledged to revoke Trump’s permit.

“Keystone XL Pipeline is a political risk,” said Jane Kleeb, founder of the progressive group Bold Nebraska. “Especially since most of the [major] Democratic candidates for president are on the record that they would reject KXL Pipeline and put a climate test on ALL fossil fuels.”

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