State Department: 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 […]

Read More →

Oil Spills — There is Damage That Cannot Be Undone

This past weekend’s New York Times article on the environmental, social, psychological, and financial costs of oil spills is a sobering reminder of the vast toll on people and planet when oil spills occur. As President Obama considers whether or not to approve the dirty tar sands Keystone XL pipeline, the lessons of recent heavy, Canadian crude oil disasters are grounds enough for saying no. After three years of clean-up, the Enbridge Energy spill in the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek in Michigan is still not complete. The spill is the company’s largest. Enbridge believes that clean-up costs will approach $1 billion. The long clean-up time and staggering costs are not surprising if you consider that the more than 840,000 gallons of oil released were heavy crude that is extra difficult to clean up. As reported in the Times article, “The (Environmental Protection Agency) estimated that 180,000 had most likely drifted to the bottom, more than 100 times Enbridge’s projection.” And more recently this past spring in Arkansas, an ExxonMobil spill of heavy, Canadian crude oil dumped approximately 210,000 gallons in a residential neighborhood. Residents, the State of Arkansas, and the Justice Department are all involved in litigation against ExxonMobil for damages. Why would take on additional oil spill risks with heavy Canadian crude when we cannot cope with existing spills? The contamination of the natural environment endures, and as one affected resident in Michigan summed it up,” There are […]

Read More →

Local and Organic in Up-State NY (March green-biz interview)

For Erick Smith and Cayuga Pure Organics, it’s important for food to be BOTH organic AND local. Smith points out that while organic products have many pluses for your health and for the environment, most of the organic dry beans in the US were actually grown in China, and incorporate a huge carbon footprint. “Ultimately it is up to consumer to be as sure as possible that they know the connection between the farm and the organic label on the food they buy,” says Smith, whose farm in upstate New York supplies organic beans and grains to the New England area and elsewhere, via online sales. We asked Erick to tell us more about his increasing use of renewable energy, the goal of getting more young people invested in local agriculture, and how a commitment to keep GMOs out of his food supply creates a packaging conundrum…

Read More →