Keystone XL opponents’ climate claims have been repeatedly debunked by the Obama administration, research institutions, and energy and climate experts, yet they haven’t given up.
Today, the anti-Keystone XL group, Friends of the Earth, submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the State Department asking it to hand over all the documents related to its reassessment in its Final Environmental Impact Statement of the number of fatalities that would occur if Keystone XL isn’t approved. In explaining its motives for this latest stunt, Friends of the Earth complains that State revised the numbers on rail fatalities “while neglecting numbers that show how Keystone XL would catalyze an increase in emissions.”
What this actually shows is that the State Department is more than willing to revise its data if it finds a genuine mistake. As the State Department’s Errata Sheet on the rail fatality revisions clearly explains, State researchers discovered that they had incorrectly queried the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) online safety database, resulting in an underreporting of injury and fatality incidents. Therefore, they corrected the error. On the other hand, Keystone XL opponents have failed to bring forth any evidence that would legitimately contradict what the State Department – after nearly six years of studying the pipeline – has found on greenhouse gas emissions.
We can’t help but note that this isn’t the first time Friends of the Earth has tried something like this. As Politico rightly reported, Friends of the Earth is one of the groups that led the charge on Keystone XL opponents’ previous “conflict of interest” stunt. Just as a refresher: when opponents originally complained that there was a “conflict of interest” in the State Department’s environmental assessment two years ago, the Office of Inspector General looked into their claims and found, as Politico reported in February 2012, “There is no evidence of conflict of interest or bias in the State Department’s review of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the department’s inspector general has found.” But opponents didn’t give up – they renewed their calls for an investigation last year so the Inspector General’s Office looked into it again. In February of 2014, they released a report finding that the State Department “substantially followed” guidelines, the “conflict of interest review was effective,” and “the review’s conclusions were reasonable.” Politico put it best when it reported that the IG’s report “marks yet another defeat for the pipeline’s opponents.” Greenwire called it “a notable blow.”
After these “notable blow[s],” Keystone XL opponents continue to grasp for straws. But no matter how many stunts they pull, they won’t be able to change the fact that Keystone XL passes the president’s climate test – and with flying colors.