The Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Keystone XL pipeline’s route was released just a few weeks after about 35,000 people gathered in DC to urge the project not be built, and after several years of actions and protests from multiple organizations and groups. The focus nationally is often on preventing construction of the northern section. For the southern, Oklahoma-Texas section, construction is well underway. I’ll keep making this point: Obama halted the northern construction for further study (the SEIS is the result), but simultaneously expedited the construction of the southern section. That’s crucial in any analysis.
From a petition drive at EcoWatch:
Last spring, President Obama made a special trip on Air Force One to the ‘Pipeline Crossroads of the World’ to call for fast-track approval of the southern (OK-TX) leg of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
(Stopping) Keystone XL in its entirety … means not only denying TransCanada a presidential permit to build the northern leg of their tar sands pipeline, but using his presidential powers to immediately halt construction of the southern leg … .
The SEIS statement is a draft. The process will include a period for public comment, followed by a final report.
Via Bryan Walsh at Time, with what is being seen as the key argument in the report
‘Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the U.S.’
In other words, … while the environmental movement has made the Keystone XL pipeline a line in the sand for U.S. climate policy—and for the environmental legacy of President Obama, who has final say on the pipeline—the project itself will have little impact on carbon emissions and on climate change. Whether or not the pipeline is built, the oil sands crude will flow.
Which is kind of like saying, “whether or not we enact gun / ammunition regulations, the bad guys who want to get guns will find a way to get them, so why bother?”
While it is entirely possible that Canada could and will choose to ship its oil sands crude to Asia, that would require a another pipeline that some native groups in Canada have opposed in the past. Railroads are an option as well, but cargo lines are already jammed … .
Keystone XL is the cheaper way to get the tar sands crude to a refinery. The fight to get this pipeline built has been fierce, by TransCanada and by the Canadian government. They didn’t make these efforts, and the Obama administration didn’t make half-way decisions, without very compelling=money reasons.
At EcoWatch, Bill McKibben writes:
Last week Time Magazine declared that Keystone XL had become the Stonewall and the Selma of the climate movement – and (Friday) we got a reminder of just how tough those fights were, and how tough this one will be.
… with Secretary of State John Kerry half a world away and D.C. focused on the budget fight, the State Department released a new environmental impact statement for the pipeline. Like the last such report, it found that approving a 800,000 barrel-a-day fuse to one of the planet’s biggest carbon bombs was ‘unlikely to have a substantial impact’ on the tar sands or the climate.
That, in a word, is nonsense – some of our most important climate scientists in the U.S. have written the State Department to explain exactly how dangerous Keystone is. Just yesterday Europe’s top climate diplomat pointed out that it would send a truly terrible signal to the rest of the world.
President Obama will be making a decision in a few short months. … (T)oday’s report makes the odds look even tougher – and the power of the fossil fuel lobby hasn’t waned one bit.
Sierra Club’s Michael Brune wrote The Keystone XL Pipeline Is an Eco-Threat – Why Doesn’t the State Department Think So?:
You know the news is going to be bad when they bury it at 4pm on a Friday. We dealt with this for eight years during the Bush administration. I never thought we’d be doing it again under John Kerry’s State Department. …
… (T)he State Department’s analysis is not only inaccurate but also incredibly cynical. By this same logic, why would anyone in North America stop new coal plants from being built, if the coal would just be burned in China and India anyway? Why would we try to replace fracked gas or mountaintop-removal coal with solar and wind, if we’re powerless as a country to lead the world to a clean energy economy? …
President Obama needs to reconcile his soaring oratory on climate with strong action to turn away from dirty fuels like tar sands oil.
Sen. Bernie Sanders issued a statement which includes this:
‘President Obama spoke eloquently in his Inaugural Address and State of the Union about the need to take action to reverse global warming. It’s now time to turn words into action. The president cannot tell us that he is concerned about global warming and approve the Keystone XL project.
Neither Obama’s or Kerry’s “passionate” (as I’ve seen them described) words about climate change are enough. Once again, and as always, if actions don’t follow, then among other results, fewer and fewer people will believe the words, no matter how passionately and eloquently spoken.
(There Is No Planet B via Planet B)