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Revealed: How the Keystone XL Pipeline Would Hasten Climate Change

A new report found the pipeline would send at least 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year into the atmosphere -- equal to emissions from 51 coal-fired power plants.

Photo Credit: Photo by Laura Borealis / Tar Sands Blockade


WASHINGTON, DC, April 16, 2013 (ENS) – In a new report, “Cooking the Books: How The State Department Analysis Ignores the True Climate Impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline,” environmental groups and scientists opposed to the pipeline warn of “climate disaster” if President Barack Obama allows it to cross the Canada-U.S. border, carrying tar sands bitumen from Alberta to Nebraska.

“This is simply incorrect,” states “ Cooking the Books.”In its  latest environmental analysis of the pipeline, issued March 1, the State Department asserts that if the pipeline is not built, the Alberta tar sands will be exploited one way or another and carbon dioxide will be emitted anyway.

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would send at least 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year into the atmosphere, warming the Earth’s climate, finds the report’s authors Steve Kretzmann, Lorne Stockman, David Turnbull and Paulina Essunger of Oil Change International.

These emissions compare to the emissions from 51 coal-fired power plants or the tailpipe emissions from more than 37.7 million cars – more cars than are now registered in California, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Michigan, and New York combined, calculates the report, which was issued by some of the nation’s largest and most influential environmental groups: Natural Resources Defense Council, 350.org, Environment America, National Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club, Greenpeace and Oil Change International.

Alberta-based TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP has applied for a Presidential Permit authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline to cross the U.S.-Canada border carrying 830,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day from the tar sands of northern Alberta to an existing pipeline in Steele City, Nebraska.

The proposed project would consist of 1,204 miles of 36-inch-diameter pipeline, with 329 miles of pipeline in Canada and 875 miles in the United States. It would cross the international border between Saskatchewan and Montana.

It is the State Department’s responsibility to determine if granting a permit is in the national interest. President Obama will make the final decision.

“This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people,” Obama said then. “I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil.”On January 18, 2012 President Obama rejected TransCanada’s first permit application, refusing to be pushed by Congressional Republicans who tied the pipeline decision to a bill providing a payroll tax cut extension.

House Republicans are still trying to force a decision favorable to the $7 billion pipeline. They plan to vote by Memorial Day on legislation that would go around President and give congressional approval to TransCanada.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton Upton, a Michigan Republican, is a coauthor of the legislation – the Northern Route Approval Act (H.R. 3) – which would clear regulatory and legal hurdles, and remove the project’s requirement for a Presidential Permit.

Upton told a House subcommittee April 10, “We have an historic opportunity with the Keystone XL pipeline to create thousands of good-paying American jobs and reduce our reliance on overseas energy.” Upton did not mention the pipeline’s impact on the planetary temperature.

Environmentalists dispute the “thousands” of jobs to which Upton refers, saying only a few dozen permanent jobs would be created.

The State Department has issued two Environmental Impact Statements, both of which find that the Keystone XL pipeline is “not likely result in significant adverse environmental effects,” and “no substantive change in global greenhouse gas emissions.”

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