Keystone XL Opponents Repackage Debunked Arguments in Effort to Further Stall Project

Keystone XL opponents are at it again; they’re recycling tired, debunked material in an effort to further delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.  In their latest stunt, just a day before President Obama announced that he won’t approve Keystone XL unless the State Department finds that it will not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, opponents have presented the State Department with a 54 page letter requesting that State prepare a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). All of this is in an effort to try and convince State that Keystone XL will increase greenhouse gas emissions, when the State Department has said unequivocally numerous times that it won’t because Canada will develop its oil sands regardless.

Through it all, Oil Sands Fact Check has been closely monitoring Keystone XL opponents’ efforts and we’ve already addressed most of the claims in their letter. Take for example, their highlighting a recent Goldman Sachs report. We addressed that here and here’s what we said:

Let’s look at exactly how Goldman Sachs actually put it:

“While we see significant demand for Canadian heavy crude oil in the United States, in particular in the Gulf Coast region, the main question at this time is whether sufficient pipeline takeaway capacity will exist that crosses the Canada/ US border, with Keystone XL (TransCanada) and Alberta Clipper (Enbridge) the key projects to watch, in our view (Exhibits 1-4). In the event that either the Keystone XL newbuild or Alberta Clipper expansion (or both) encounter further delays, we believe risk would grow that Canadian heavy oil/oil sands supply would remain trapped in the province of Alberta.” 

Note that the report is not saying that oil sands won’t get out but they “believe risk would grow.”  Before Keystone XL opponents get too excited, have any of them thought of asking Canadian officials, who will actually be making the decisions, what they plan to do with their oil sands?  Our guess is no, so we thought we’d find out for them.

Of course, numerous Canadian officials from Gary Doer, Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, to Joe Oliver, Natural Resources Minister of Canada, have said very clearly that Canada will get the oil out no matter what President Obama decides on Keystone XL.

When opponents celebrated a hitch in the approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline, saying it portended Keystone XL’s fate, we also tackled their trumped up claims here. In their letter to State when they address the Northern Gateway pipeline, they mention Joe Oliver but leave out this important comment: “Several of the project’s opponents believe it would be a decisive body blow which would keep the oil sands in the ground. That’s simply wrong.”

Let’s not forget that they’ve failed on many of these tactics before.  Remember their big cry about oil sands being more corrosive and dangerous than other types of oil?  Well, that was flat-out refuted by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) this week – we have all the details on that here, but just to recap: NAS released a report which states unequivocally that diluted bitumen (one of the kinds of crude oil that will be transported by the Keystone XL pipeline) does not pose an increased risk compared to other crude oils when transported via pipeline.

It’s been nearly five years now of review, Keystone XL is the most studied pipeline in history, and it’s clear that it is absolutely, to borrow a phrase from President Obama’s speech this week, in “our nation’s best interest.” Keystone XL is the safest way to transport Canadian energy resources; it will create thousands of American jobs; it will help North America achieve energy security; and, if Keystone XL isn’t built, Canada will still develop its oil sands.  That’s why the public overwhelmingly supports the Keystone XL pipeline (85 percent, in fact). It has business and union supportnewspaper editorials across the country have urged President Obama to approve the pipeline and a clear bipartisan majority in Congress has voted in favor of Keystone XL.  Even opponents acknowledge this fact. All they’re left with is their delay campaign.

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