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Keystone official says pipeline will have ‘no measurable impact’ on global warming

Just two days after a rally opposing the Keystone XL pipeline took place outside the White House, a top TransCanada official rebutted critics and said that the pipeline would have no impact on global warming.

“You could shut down oil sands production tomorrow and it would have absolutely no measurable impact on climate change,” said Alex Pourbaix, president for energy and pipelines at TransCanada, the company that wants to build the pipeline.

“Our opponents are trying to make this debate about [greenhouse gases],” he said, referring to greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that are emitted as oil is produced and refined. “So let’s look at Canada’s contribution to global [greenhouse gases].”

Pourbaix made his comments at a forum put on by the National Association of Manufacturers, where he talked about the benefits of the pipeline. He also talked about how Canada has been a leader in tackling climate change and how Alberta became the first North American jurisdiction to regulate greenhouse gases.

“Simple math tells us… that the oil sands represent only one-tenth of 1 percent of global greenhouse emissions,” Poubaix said. “Even if production from the oil sands were to double, the [greenhouse gas] contribution from the oil sands would be immaterial” to worldwide greenhouse gas levels.

However, Michael Mann — a Pennsylvania State University climate scientist who was at the center of the Climategate scandal and who opposes the pipeline — said that Pourbaix’s remarks were based on “some rather rosy assumptions” about oil sands production.

Endorsing the pipeline means “we may be insuring that a much larger amount (of the oil reserves) will be economically viable,” Mann said.

Pipeline supporters say that it would help the U.S. reduce its reliance on oil from volatile areas of the world like the Middle East and Venezuela. The Department of Energy estimates the pipeline could move up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day.

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