The anti-Keystone XL group, 350.org, launched yet another PR stunt today directed squarely at Secretary of State John Kerry as he arrived in Lima for the international climate talks.
— 350 dot org (@350) December 11, 2014
Of course, stunts like these are all the anti-Keystone XL crowd has left. The clear scientific consensus is that Keystone XL passes President Obama’s climate test. Secretary Kerry’s own State Department found, in five assessments in over six years, that the pipeline will have a minimal impact on the environment. So this fringe group of activists is desperately trying to gain traction for their radical anti-fossil fuel agenda.
Just how badly have they lost the debate? Even the usually sympathetic outlets have called them out for their climate claims. As the New York Times explained, “when it comes to the pipeline’s true impact on global warming, energy and climate change experts — including former Obama administration officials — say Keystone’s political symbolism vastly outweighs its policy substance … the carbon emissions produced by oil that would be moved in the Keystone pipeline would amount to less than 1 percent of United States greenhouse gas emissions, and an infinitesimal slice of the global total.”
The New York Times hit the nail on the head: from the Obama administration, to respected research institutions, to climate and energy experts, the resounding refrain is that Keystone XL will not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions.
IHS CERA found that Keystone XL would have “no material impact” on greenhouse gas emissions because the oil sands from Canada would simply replace similar crude coming in from Venezuela. In that sense, the biggest winner on a negative decision on Keystone XL is Venezuela, as the United States would continue to import its heavy crude oil.
Energy and climate experts have agreed. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy has said, “if there’s oil there, someone will find it and use it.”
International Energy Agency (IEA) chief economist Fatih Birol said recently, “the additional contribution [of greenhouse gases] coming from the oil sands in Canada, compared to the same amount of oil from Middle East or Brazil or central Asia, is completely peanuts.”
Michael Levi, energy and environment expert at the Council on Foreign Relations stated: “And despite fears by climate change activists that increased oil sand production has profoundly negative consequences to global warming, Alberta’s massive reserve base contributes relatively little to the problem at a global scale.”
David Victor, a climate-policy expert at the University of California noted that “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.”
David Keith, climate scientist at Harvard told Nature: “The extreme statements — that this is ‘game over’ for the planet — are clearly not intellectually true …”
Burton Richter, an emeritus professor at Stanford University and winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, explained that climate arguments against Keystone XL “make no sense,” adding that “those opposed to Keystone are trying to mobilize support for a cause, combating climate change. I do support that cause, but will not waste time or effort on things that do no real good.”
Not only that but poll after poll has shown overwhelming support for Keystone XL and the thousands of jobs, economic growth and energy security the pipeline would bring.
New York Mag’s Jonathan Chait perhaps put it best when he asked, “So, what public policy reason is there to block the pipeline? There really isn’t one.”
Now the big question is: will Secretary Kerry listen to the experts in his own State Department or fringe activists who just tweeted this today: “we must get off fossil fuels—completely.”