Environmentalists ‘outraged’ by federal Keystone XL report

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Environmentalists are angry that the Obama administration’s report on the Keystone XL pipeline did not find significant negative effects on the environment.

“The Sierra Club is outraged by the State Department’s deeply flawed analysis today and what can only be interpreted as lip service to one of the greatest threats to our children’s future: climate disruption,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune in a statement.

“Groundhog Day — we’re hearing the same rehashed arguments from the State Department about why a great threat to the climate is not a threat at all,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. “Mother Nature filed her comments last year — the hottest year in American history.”

The State Department’s draft assessment of the pipeline found that the pipeline won’t have a huge impact on climate change, because it won’t substantially impact the development of tar sands oil or the amount of oil refined in the Gulf Coast region.

“We’re mystified as to how the State Department can acknowledge the negative effects of the Earth’s dirtiest oil on our climate, but at the same time claim that the proposed pipeline will ‘not likely result in significant adverse environmental effects,’” Brune added. “Whether this failure was willful or accidental, this report is nothing short of malpractice.”

However, the assessment also said that the pipeline will have little impact on U.S. energy needs, which the government concluded could be met even without the pipeline through the increased use of rail transportation of oil and other pipelines.

Last month, thousands of activists led by the Sierra Club protested in front of the White House and urged President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, which will bring tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast region.

The Keystone pipeline has been waiting for final approval for more than four years, angering Republicans who argue that the pipeline would help grow the economy and make the country more energy independent.

“At a time when gas prices are rising toward $4.00 a gallon, we must use every available tool we can to increase America’s access to affordable and secure energy supplies,” said Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton and Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield in a statement. “It should be a no-brainer to approve Keystone and accept Canada’s oil.”

However, environmentalists argue that the pipeline could harm water supplies and would contribute to climate change. Some climate scientists argue that tar sands oil production creates more greenhouse gases than conventional crude oil.

President Obama is not expected to make a final decision on the pipeline’s permit application until the middle of summer.

“This is, as President Obama says, ‘a teachable moment,’” said Dan Kish, senior vice president for the Institute for Energy Research. “It teaches us why our government’s policies continue to stifle job creation, investment and new energy sources and instead spends valuable time and increasingly limited resources studying things to death.”

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