State Department on Keystone XL Pipeline: Contributes to Climate Change

KXLLate 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.

Categories: clean energy, climate change

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  1. From what I understand, the Keystone Pipeline fuel has already been sold to China. And they have told the United States that we need to get the pipeline built soon or they will build it. If we build the pipeline it will be built to our standards. Standards that will have the least amount of negative effect on our country. If we do not get it done within the time limit given by China, they will build it themselves using their own workers (jobs loss for Americans) with no regards to safety or environmental concerns for our lands! Investigate this rumor and tell me if what I’ve heard is true or not.

    • I cannot say for certain, but it seems that the rumor would be false. If the rumor is that China would build the pipeline on US soil they would have to follow the US laws and standards. When foreigners build skyscrapers and casinos they are still required to adhere to the building codes and laws of the US.

  2. If you really knew about what the oil sands is doing for the environment you would all be quiet and go after the american oil producer about to fractionate a 1500 sq mile square area possibly creating earth quakes and god knows what. This pipeline is small potatoes for what is about to come, i believe this is a distraction for a surge in the USA midwest .They have already built 1500 homes for workers.

    I support this cause it makes sense to further create smarter ways to fuel the alternate cars of the world. Did you know that China has 25% more electric cars on the road and is eliminating the oil and coal burning electrical plants faster then the USA? Get your passion in the right place Please start at home with things you can change fast and easy, natural gas works well when done right. If you want to help have them plant trees and other vegetation that can eat the spills along the route make it safer for them and fight the oil battle with alternate fuels or ways to power the world. Get the american military to let go of the Ballard fuel cell technology that powered an entire canadian island for more then a year then disappeared into the american military hands

    Sorry on this one you wont win at cancelling it but i hope you improve it to be the safest one every in the industry!

  3. I added this to my official comments:

    As my young son says, “The Keystone Pipeline is not in America’s best interest.
    It will destroy homes, businesses, ecosystems & people’s lives. When, not if, the pipe fractures, it will cause major devastation…and you will be responsible.” He also said, “Thanks, it feels like I have a voice!”

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