State Department on Keystone XL Pipeline: Contributes to Climate Change
Late in the day on Friday, January 31, 2014 the State Department released its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Project. The new report contains the important statement that “The total direct and indirect emissions associated with the proposed Project would contribute to cumulative global GHG emissions.” This is a crucial, over-due acknowledgement by the State Department and an important one because President Obama has stated that climate impacts will influence his decision-making on the pipeline: “Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest, and our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”
Unfortunately, the report also states that “approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands….” So advocates both for and against the pipeline are finding support for their positions in the latest governmental report. The report is not definitive in its assessment and is flawed in a number of ways:
• The report fails to capture the full scope of the climate, environmental, economic and health consequences of proceeding with the Keystone XL pipeline. For a more comprehensive understanding of the pipeline’s contributions to the climate crisis read Fail: How the Keystone XL Pipeline Fails the Climate Test. And for a more truthful assessment of the job creation potential of the pipeline, contrasted with the claims touted by the oil industry, read the Cornell report Pipedreams: Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost by the Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. In addition to the Cornell research, the State Department itself has concluded that ultimately the pipeline would only create merely 35 permanent jobs.
• The report has been issued amidst unresolved conflict of interest charges between the State Department’s research contractor and TransCanada, the pipeline company. The very credibility of the report is in question as highlighted and investigated by Friends of the Earth.
The reasons Green America as well as Nobel laureates, environmentalists, small businesses, ranchers, farmers, physicians, indigenous communities, and many others opposed the pipeline several years ago remain the same:
• The pipeline will exacerbate the climate crisis. The dirty tar sands oil production process alone generates three times as much global warming pollution as conventional crude oil generates.
• Tar sands extraction and transport will result in leaks and spills that harm human health, especially in indigenous communities and those along the pipeline route.
• Tar sands extraction and transport will pollute and harm the environment including water, land, forests, air, and wildlife.
• Only 35 permanent jobs will result from the project.
• The pipeline will not increase US energy security because the oil is intended for export from the Gulf of Mexico.
• The sustainable business community opposes the Keystone XL pipeline because it takes our nation in the wrong direction economically and is bad for business over the long term.
• We need to move immediately toward mass investment in clean energy and energy efficiency to secure our energy needs, decrease carbon pollution, and create millions of good domestic jobs.
Hundreds of vigils are taking place nationally today, opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and calling for a clean energy future. We need every American to urge President Obama to live up to his words and to take strong action on climate. The President can be the climate leader the times demand by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline now.