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KEYSTONE XL:

$43,000 later, union declares open war on anti-pipeline Democrats

Keystone XL's elevation as an emblem of climate change is starting to stoke tension within the Democratic Party to match its cross-aisle controversy, due to one union's vow to retaliate against 27 House Democrats who oppose the oil sands pipeline on greenhouse gas grounds.

The Laborers' International Union of North America sent letters last week to House Democrats who recently urged Secretary of State John Kerry to recommend a presidential rejection of KXL, the $5.4 billion link between Canada's oil sands and Gulf Coast refineries made famous by environmentalist resistance to the emissions-heavy crude it would carry. The labor group already has given $43,000 this election cycle to a dozen of the Democrats it is now targeting, according to campaign finance reports tallied by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

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About this report

With the heft to carry half a million barrels of oil daily, the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline is a huge proposal. But behind the furor over it lies an even bigger question: How should America approach the massive fuel reserves that its northern neighbor is working overtime to tap?

Setting the Stage

OIL SANDS:

With emotions high and evidence low, pipeline corrosion questions hound Keystone XL

OUTSIDE FORT McMURRAY, Alberta -- Hold a vial of pumped and processed oil to the light here, just before it enters the pipeline that one executive jokingly calls "the cash register," and you can see a layer of watery sediment settled at the bottom. Environmental and safety groups warn that this diluted bitumen poses a greater risk of pipeline corrosion and spills than conventional fuel or the synthetic crude also produced from the Canadian oil sands.

OIL AND GAS:

Protest makes Keystone XL newest front in climate clash

In the year since a cap-and-trade climate bill failed on Capitol Hill, a funny thing happened -- gradually but unmistakably -- to the U.S.-Canada pipeline project known as Keystone XL: It became the global warming fight's new guise. Keystone XL's ascension from little-known commodity to fodder for a marquee bout between industry groups and environmentalists is set to start its last leg tomorrow, as green advocates converge on the White House for a two-week demonstration against the $7 billion proposal.

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