Building Keystone XL Equals 51 New Coal Plants

As the President’s decision on whether to approve the Keystone tar sands pipeline draws near, the level of activity has picked up on both sides.

In the House, the Energy and Commerce Committee voted 30-18, passing the Northern Route Approval Act (H.R. 3), which would allow TransCanada to build the pipeline without the President’s approval.

Canadian Nobel Laureate Dr. Mark Jaccard testified to the House subcommittee on Energy and Power against pushing for the pipeline. 

Rejecting it will slow development of Alberta oil sands, he said,  and better position the US to transition to a low-carbon economy. The oil sands, along with other polluting fossil fuels, are not a viable fuel source if a 2 degree C temperature increase is to be avoided.

The subcommittee voted in favor of the pipeline, 9-2, and sent it to the Energy & Commerce Committee.

ALEC is behind legislation moving through six states to approve TransCanada’s tar sands pipeline.

On the environmental side, a new report counters the State Department analysis of the Keystone tar sands pipeline, filling in the facts left out through cronyism.

While the State Department finds no significant environmental impacts from approving the pipeline, "Cooking the Books" finds the opposite:

Its impact would that of 51 coal-fired power plants or 37.7 million cars – more than registered in California, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Michigan, and New York – combined.

The report analyzed emissions from producing, transporting, refining and consuming the oil.

"When  evaluating this project, the State Department should apply a simple test: Does its completion bring the U.S. closer to meeting its climate goals? The answer is clearly no, and therefore the project must be denied," says Steve Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International.

From 2015-2050, the pipeline would produce more than the emissions produced in the entire US during 2011 – 6.34 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. 

The International Energy Agency warns that two-thirds of known fossil fuel reserves must remain undeveloped in order to avoid a 2 degree C temperature rise.

Building the Keystone XL pipeline and the resulting expansion of tar sands would make that goal far more difficult, if not impossible, to reach.

The Pembina Institute’s paper, "The climate implications of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline," shows that pipelines are a key determinant of tar sands expansion.

Rampant Conflicts of Interest

Friends of the Earth, which exposed conflicts of interest with contractors hired to do the first State Dept analysis, has filed a sweeping Freedom of Information Act request for the release of all communications since October 2011 between the State Department and lobbyists for TransCanada and the Province of Alberta.

The group has identified more than two dozen lobbyists, lawyers and consultants that are pushing the pipeline who have close ties to Obama, Kerry, Clinton or other elected officials with a stake in the outcome.

Anita Dunn, for example, is a principal with the lobbying firm that represents TransCanada. According to The New York Times, she’s  met with top White House officials at least 100 times since leaving her position as White House communications director in 2009. She was also senior advisor to Obama’s re-election campaign.

"The State Department’s handling of the environmental review of the Keystone pipeline has been hopelessly compromised by TransCanada, the Province of Alberta and their army of lobbyists," says Ross Hammond for Friends of the Earth. "It is clear that Sec. Kerry inherited a flawed review process in which TransCanada and Alberta continue to call the shots. A full investigation of the role played by pipeline lobbyists and consultants in inappropriately influencing the review is needed to give Americans the truth before the president makes this momentous decision."

One of the ways President Obama wants to address climate change is to require all federal agencies to consider climate impacts when evaluating any new major project. If this is their level of analysis, we’re in big trouble.

Nebraska Hearing

Pipeline opponents flooded the airwaves on TV and radio during the State Dept’s hearing in Nebraska yesterday  – the only federal hearing on the pipeline. 

"All Risk, No Reward" Coalition saturated the market with a TV spot; Nebraska Sierra Club covered almost the whole state with three radio ads and a TV spot during the 10 p.m. news; and BOLD Nebraska has a TV ad on three cable providers.

1000 activists from Nebraska and nearby states showed up to express concerns about water, land and climate. is working toward getting 1 million people to send comments to the State Dept against the pipeline. You can comment here:

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Comments on “Building Keystone XL Equals 51 New Coal Plants”

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