Nobel Prize winners write Obama opposing TransCanada’s pipeline

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama and six other Nobel Peace Prize winners urged fellow laureate, President Barack Obama, to reject TransCanada Corp.’s proposed $7 billion pipeline across six U.S. states.

Rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline would provide “a tremendous opportunity” to begin a transition “away from our dependence on oil, coal and gas and instead increase investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency,” the eight said in a letter posted on the website of the Ottawa-based Nobel Women’s Initiative today. “This will be your legacy to Americans and the global community: energy that sustains the lives and livelihoods of future generations.”

The women’s initiative is a nonprofit organization formed by six female Nobel Prize winners to work on peace and justice issues.

A State Department report last month said that the Calgary- based company’s pipeline, carrying oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast, has low environmental risks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will decide this year whether to approve the project, based on whether it’s in the U.S. national interest.

Environmentalists oppose the pipeline, citing greenhouse- gas emissions and risks of a spill along the 1,711-mile (2,753- kilometer) route. More than 1,200 pipeline protesters were arrested as they sat on the sidewalk outside the White House in the past month.

Alberta oil is separated from sand and clay in a process that uses intense heat, releasing more greenhouse gases than pumping conventional crude.

The letter was signed by Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams of Ireland; Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina, Tutu of South Africa, the Dalai Lama of Tibet, Rigoberta Menchú Tum of Guatemala, José Ramos-Horta of East Timor, Jody Williams of the U.S. and Shirin Ebadi of Iran.

Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.