Enviros claim Keystone will raise carbon emissions

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

Environmentalists are taking up President Obama’s challenge to prove that the Keystone XL pipeline will significantly raise carbon dioxide emissions and increase global warming.

A report issued by environmentalists on Thursday claims to give Obama “all of the information he needs to reject” the pipeline as it will increase Canadian tar sands oil production by 36 percent which will significantly increase carbon emissions.

“The answer to the president’s Keystone XL climate challenge is clear: the Keystone XL pipeline is a linchpin to tar sands development, and increased tar sands development would be disastrous for the climate. The president must reject the pipeline,” reads the report by the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment America and Oil Change International.

The document also downplayed the effect alternative modes of transport such as trains, trucks, and other pipelines would have on carbon emissions.

“There is no question the American public is going to give more credibility to the Department of State, IHS CERA, and even prominent climate scientists, who have all said that Keystone XL will not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions,” said Katie Brown of Oil Sands Fact Check.

Environmentalists have stood firm in their criticism of the Keystone pipeline, despite remarks made by climate experts that the project would have little, if any, effect on global warming.

Harvard climate scientist David Keith told Nature that, “The extreme statements — that this is ‘game over’ for the planet — are clearly not intellectually true.”

“I don’t believe that whether the pipeline is built or not will have any detectable climate effect,” Ken Caldeira, climate researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science, told Nature.

“As a serious strategy for dealing with climate, blocking Keystone is a waste of time. But as a strategy for arousing passion, it is dynamite,” said David Victor, a climate policy expert at the University of California.

Previous reports have found that Keystone XL would have little impact on global warming.

A report by IHS CERA found that the pipeline would have “no material impact” on greenhouse gas emissions, which environmentalists claim drive global warming.

Obama’s own State Department’s review of the pipeline also found that it would have little impact on carbon emissions as tar sands oil would be brought to market regardless of whether or not Keystone was built.

But the Environmental Protection Agency challenged that finding and argued that the State Department needed to take a closer look into the climate impacts of the pipeline. Environmental groups also criticized the State Department review, arguing that the contractor that conducted the review had ties to the oil and gas industry.

The State Department inspector general is investigating environmentalist claims of a conflict of interest in the pipeline review. The investigation won’t be completed until January 2014.

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