Ever since President Obama said that his decision to approve Keystone XL would depend largely on a finding that Keystone XL would “not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution,” opponents have been working overtime to try to persuade Americans (unconvincingly) that Keystone XL would be a climate disaster.
It won’t. President Obama’s own State Department has found, on numerous occasions, that Keystone XL will not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions because Canada will develop its oil sands “with or without the project.” An independent report by IHS CERA found that Keystone XL will have “no material impact” on greenhouse gas emissions. And just a few weeks ago Nature reported that prominent scientists agree. So who to believe? The State Department, IHS CERA, and prominent climate scientists or anti-Keystone XL activists who have a clear agenda of ending development altogether?
Canadian Oil Will Get To Market
The entire point of their report is to argue that Keystone XL is “environmental Armageddon.” It regurgitates opponents’ false claim that oil sands crude is the “most carbon polluting sources of oil on the planet.” The truth is that oil sands crude (which by the way has been refined in the United States for decades) has similar GHG emissions to other heavy crudes refined in the U.S. on a well-to-wheels basis, which we’ve highlighted before here.
And as far as their greenhouse gas argument goes, let’s just remember what prominent climate scientists have had to say:
- David Keith, a Canadian climate scientist at Harvard said, “The extreme statements — that this is ‘game over’ for the planet — are clearly not intellectually true…”
- David Victor, a climate-policy expert at the University of California explained, “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.”
- Ken Caldeira, climate researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California put it this way: “I don’t believe that whether the pipeline is built or not will have any detectable climate effect.”
Keystone XL is NOT a Crude Oil Export Pipeline
Opponents also repeated their claim that with Keystone XL oil sands would just be exported, while the truth is that without Keystone XL, the oil will likely be exported – and to places like China where environmental regulations are not as strict. As we’ve said before, in order to export crude from the United States a license from the Department of Commerce is required.
The opponents’ report even quotes Esa Ramasamy of Platts who claims that “There is a limit to how much (heavy crude) the Gulf Coast refiners can soak up.” That claim is directly contradicted by a recent IHS CERA report which found that “the Gulf Coast region has a strong appetite for heavy crude – requiring 2.4 million barrels per day (mbd) in 2012. Its refineries are generally configured to optimally process this type of crude given the large scale of the coking capacity already in place. Therefore, with or without oil sands supply to the Gulf Coast, refiners there will continue to process heavy crude oils.” However, if the United States is importing less crude from Canada if Keystone XL isn’t built, more of that crude will have to come from Venezuela. In fact, IHS CERA specifically states that “Venezuela—will be the number one beneficiary of a negative decision on Keystone.”
Conflict of Interest All About Delay
Of course in their latest report, they spend considerable time rehashing their “conflict of interest” claims calling them “serious allegations.” As we’ve pointed out many times, activists have tried this stunt before, but when the State Department Office of Inspector General looked into the matter last year they found no sign of wrongdoing.
The Verdict Is In
Keystone XL opponents will surely continue their antics but the verdict is in and the American people overwhelmingly say yes to Keystone XL. Now it’s time for President Obama to do the same.