- There’s nothing new in this “new report” on Keystone XL and greenhouse gas emissions – the same researchers released a draft of this study in December 2013.
- The State Department took that draft report into account (citing it in its Final Environmental Impact Statement) and still concluded that Keystone XL would have a negligible impact on the environment.
- Experts at the State Department found that Keystone XL does not “significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands (based on expected oil prices, oil-sands supply costs, transport costs and supply-demand scenarios).” The State Department also demonstrated that that Keystone XL will not affect “the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States.”
- The overwhelming consensus from the State Department, research organizations, energy experts, climate scientists, Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and Obama administration officials is that Keystone XL passes President Obama’s climate test.
This weekend, Peter Erickson and Michael Lazarus of the Stockholm Environmental Institute finalized their “new” study on the Keystone XL pipeline and greenhouse gas emissions. While they portray their study as containing new information that could change the debate, in reality, there’s nothing new about this report. In fact, the study is just the ‘final’ version of a working paper that was actually cited in the State Department’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). This is key because it means that the State Department already evaluated Erickson and Lazarus’ research, took into account what they had to say, and still determined that Keystone XL would have a negligible impact on the environment.
Importantly Lazarus and Erickson’s conclusion hinges on this passage:
“We find that for every barrel of increased production, global oil consumption would increase 0.6 barrels owing to the incremental decrease in global oil prices.”
Note that the report says for every barrel of “increased production” — the “Market Analysis” section of the State Department’s FEIS already concluded that approval or denial of Keystone XL would make no impact on the development of oil sands because “increased production” will happen with or without Keystone XL. As the State Department explained, Keystone XL will not “significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands (based on expected oil prices, oil-sands supply costs, transport costs and supply-demand scenarios).” It goes on to say it will not affect “the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States.”
That was also the conclusion of IHS CERA, which found that Keystone XL will have “no material impact” on greenhouse gas emission because “[g]rowing volumes of Canadian heavy crude are likely to displace other heavy crude oils imported from Venezuela and Mexico,” which have the same greenhouse gas intensity as oil sands. That’s why IHS CERA concluded that Venezuela would be the “number one beneficiary” of a negative decision on Keystone XL because the United States would continue having to import heavy oil from that unstable region.
We also can’t help but point out that Erickson and Lazarus’s conclusion directly contradicts what Keystone XL opponents have been saying for years on oil and gas prices: billionaire activist Tom Steyer’s previous (thoroughly debunked) ad stunts claimed that “Keystone is only going to drive the price of oil up,” while NRDC’s Anthony Swift authored an entire report explaining how Keystone XL would “increase oil prices.” In this latest report, Erickson and Lazarus argue that increased supply on the world market from Keystone XL will lower oil prices on the world market and thus drive down the price of gas at the pump. Could that be why many anti-Keystone groups have been pretty quiet in the wake of this report’s release? However, a finding that oil sands will help lower prices also isn’t new. IHS CERA also looked at gas prices and found that Keystone XL would be a boon to the consumer because “as oil sands production expands…it can help boost global spare capacity, which can help moderate global prices, which in turn affects US gasoline prices.”
It’s also worth noting that the Stockholm Environment Institute received $100,000 in 2012 from the well-known anti-energy group, the Rockefeller Foundation. While that’s merely a drop in the bucket for the likes of billionaire Tom Steyer, this is yet another example of Keystone XL opponents throwing money at “research” just to see if anything sticks.
The bottom line is that putting a bow on a report doesn’t make it new. The conclusions of this paper have already been considered by the State Department and rejected because it’s abundantly clear that oil sands will be developed regardless of Keystone XL. As OSFC’s recent pamphlet explained, from the State Department (which has studied the pipeline for nearly six years) to research institutions to energy experts, climate scientists and Obama administration officials, the overwhelming consensus is that Keystone XL passes President Obama’s climate test. Our pamphlet has all the previous studies included and the quotes from experts showing just that (click here for the full story).
Keystone XL is in our national interest – and there’s nothing “new” in this report to add to the debate.