Latino group joins Keystone XL fight

WASHINGTON — A Latino political organizing group has joined environmentalists’ crusade against Keystone XL, saying Hispanics who live near Gulf Coast refineries have much to lose from the pipeline. said it was opposing TransCanada Corp.’s proposed pipeline and would be encouraging its 300,000 supporters — including some 80,000 in California and 20,000 in Texas — to join the crusade.

Arturo Carmona, executive director of the group, stressed the large number of Latinos living in coastal cities and drought-prone areas who could be hit hard by climate change.

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Beyond that, “refineries that would process KXL’s tar sands are concentrated in Latino communities in Texas, sickening our children and families with their toxic pollution,” Carmona said. “When you look at air pollution and toxics and the places where Latinos are heavily concentrated — in California and in Texas — Latinos need to be front and center on this issue.”’s decision to align with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and other groups opposing Keystone XL marks the latest bid by pipeline foes to broaden opposition to the project.

Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., recently have emphasized health concerns with the pipeline, which would transport diluted bitumen from Canada’s oil sands and crude from the Bakken Shale to Cushing, Okla., en route to Gulf Coast refineries.

Keystone XL supporters argue that the new strategies are a sign opponents are running out of options, following the State Department’s conclusion earlier this year that Canada’s oil sands would be developed even if the pipeline were denied.

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The State Department is now weighing whether the border-crossing pipeline is in the national interest, a broad evaluation that wraps in economic and security concerns as well as environmental ones.

Carmona stressed in an interview that it was important to illustrate the array of Keystone XL opposition as a final decision nears.

“We’re getting down to the wire, and it’s important to have diverse voices,” he said. “Keystone XL will impact Latinos disproportionately.”

A recent poll of members found that immigration was a top policy issue, followed by environmental justice and climate change. The advocacy group was founded five years ago in San Francisco.

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