US President Barack Obama will soon be deciding whether or not he will increase the nation’s reliance on some of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuels. For those who oppose the Keystone XL the road has been long and arduous. In the coming months, Obama will make the final call and for many, this is a defining moment of his presidency. If it goes forward the Keystone XL pipeline will transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude tar sands oil each day from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. With a carbon load that is three or four times that of conventional oil, this is some of the dirtiest fossil fuels on Earth.
The First State Department Report
The environmental impact study written by Environmental Resources Management (ERM) found that Keystone would not significantly increase climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions. However, sections of the study actually contradict this conclusion.
Review of the First State Department Report
ERM was recommended to the State Department by TransCanada, the builders of the Keystone XL. This prompted a reassessment based on concerns about conflict of interest as the two companies have a history of working together. ERM is also a member of several energy industry groups that have urged the
government to support the project. ERM also relied on sources that are friendly to the oil industry and have vested interests in Keystone being built.
The Huffington Post reported that ERM “did all sorts of dodgy and deceptive stuff.” Grist addressed some of the flaws in the study and Bloomberg pointed to questionable behavior. However, the government-sanctioned audit suggested that none of these issues amounted to serious rule-breaking.
Second State Department Review
The second State Department Review came to similar conclusions as the first, however, the final round of public comments generated over two million comments opposing the pipeline.
Fossil Fuel Influence
The fossil fuel industry has spent a small fortune on advertising and public relations to win support for the Keystone XL and industry lobbyists are working hard to influence the outcome.
The Real Carbon Load
Environmentally concerned people are quick to point out that the President made it clear that he will only go ahead with the Keystone if it is in the national interest and would not contribute to climate change. More recently Secretary of State John Kerry has compared climate change to a “weapon of mass destruction.” In light of the carbon impacts that the pipeline will generate it is hard to see how we can afford to build the northern leg of the Keystone XL.
According to the NRDC, during its construction and over its projected 50-year lifetime, the Keystone could lead to greenhouse gas emissions as high as 1.4 billion metric tons. As reported in the Huffington Post, a Carbon Tracker report found that, through 2050, “KXL-enabled production of tar sands oil would produce as much as 5.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent — much higher than the maximum of 168 million metric tons that the State Department’s analysis found.” The report further indicates that moving ahead with the Keystone XL will prevent the US from meeting its international commitments to cut emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. It is also inconsistent with keeping temperature increases below the 2 degrees Celsius upper threshold limit agreed upon in 2009.
While a handful of companies stand to make billions of dollars, the pipeline will also generate billions of tons of carbon. This state of affairs has prompted some to call it, “a fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet”.
The pipeline is not only a US issue, the implications of expanded tar sands exploitation are a global issue. No matter where we are in the world, we are all downstream from climate change.
The Fate of the Keystone XL: The Ball is in Your Court Mr President
Refuting the Rationale for Approving the Keystone XL
Business Leaders, Scientists, Economists and Ordinary People Reject the Keystone XL
Video – Two Million Comments Rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline
Video – Obama’s Top Aids and Democratic Donors Oppose the Keystone XL
Keystone XL will Fly or Fail Depending on Who you Talk to
The Keystone XL Pipeline: Debunking Four Cardinal Lies
Moving Bitumen by Rail Rather than Pipe will Lessen Tar Sands Expansion
Ten Reasons Why Nurses Oppose the Keystone XL
Comparison of the Keystone XL and Renewable Energy
Video – A New Approach to Protest Against the KXL
Video – Farcical Comedy on Keystone XL Jobs
How Come the Keystone XL is so Hard to Kill
Oil Spills Add to Concerns about the Keystone XL Pipeline
Protests Greet the Keystone XL South as it Makes its First Deliveries of Oil
Video – This is What a Corroded Underwater Tar Sands Pipeline Looks Like
Taxpayers Money to Promote Fossil Fuel Pipeline Brought to you by Canada’s Ruling Federal Conservatives
Keystone XL on the Ropes: Conflict of Interest Revealed in the State’s EIS
Obama Says the Number of Keystone XL Jobs are “Negligible
Obama Rebuffs the Keystone XL’s Economic and Jobs Benefits
New Tar Sands Pipeline Goes East to Follow the Path of Least Resistance
The Fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline in the Wake of President Obama’s Georgetown University Speech
Unions Oppose the Keystone XL in the Jobs vs. Environment Debate
EPA Slams State Department on the Keystone XL
Cornell University Questions the Economic Benefits of the Keystone XL Pipeline
American Employment: Keystone XL vs Green Jobs
A New State Department Environmental Impact Assessment Clears the Keystone XL Pipeline
The DoD’s Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap (CCAR) Excludes Keystone XL
Obama to Expedite the Keystone XL Pipeline
Bill McKibben on Obama’s Keystone XL Reversal
Republicans Vow to Continue Push for Keystone
The Center for Biological Diversity CREDO and Friends of the Earth Slam Keystone Reversal
Indigenous People and Students Protest Obama’s Reversal on Keystone XL
GOP’s Keystone XL Proposal Fails in Senate
Anti-Keystone XL Ad Campaign
The Keystone XL and Rising Fuel Prices
Video: Keystone XL will Raise Gas Prices
Republicans Refuse to Let the Keystone XL Die
Keystone XL Protest Message Campaign a Success
Resistance to Republican Efforts to Resurrect the Keystone XL Pipeline
Obama Cancels the Keystone XL Pipeline Project
President Obama Stops Keystone XL Pipeline
Republicans Use Blackmail to Gain Support for the Keystone XL Pipeline
Tar Sands Day of Action in Washington
President Obama and the Fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline
NRDC November 6 Protest Against the Keystone XL in Washington DC
Nebraska’s Special Session to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline
South Dakota Wants Additional Protections Against Spills from the Keystone XL Pipeline
Safety Measures for the Keystone XL Rejected by Environmentalists in Nebraska
State Department Hearings for the Keystone XL Pipeline
Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Protest
Keystone XL Protest Ends in Washington
Nobel Prize Laureates Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline
Religious Leaders Join the Protest Against Keystone XL Pipeline
Video – Van Jones Attacks the Keystone XL Pipeline
US Protests Against the Tar Sands Oil
Canada on Track to be a Dirty Energy Superpower
Bill McKibben and other Protestors Jailed for their Opposition to the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline
Video: NASA’s Leading Climatologist Addresses Crowd Before he was Arrested at the Keystone XL Tar Sands Protest in Washington