NRDC: Keystone XL Approval = Path to Climate Disaster

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Common Dreams

NRDC: Keystone XL Approval = Path to Climate Disaster

New analysis from group shows how the tar sands carrying pipeline fails President Obama's own test for its approval.

by
Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Approval of the tar-sands carrying Keystone XL pipeline is a guaranteed path towards increased greenhouse gases, which would worsen climate change, thereby failing President Obama's own "climate test" for the pipeline's approval, according to a report released Tuesday from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“Our analysis clearly demonstrates that the Keystone XL pipeline would dramatically boost the development of dirty tar sands oil, significantly exacerbating the problem of climate pollution,” Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of NRDC’s international program, said in a statement.

The pipeline would add up to 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon pollution to the atmosphere over the 50-year span of the project, according to the economic and climate analysis from the group.  And, adds Casey-Lefkowitz, "this is without taking climate pollution from destruction of Boreal peatlands and wetlands into account." 

The group quotes Obama's climate address from June when he said:

Our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.

As the report details how tar sands are more carbon-intensive than traditional crude, the group says the pipeline would fail the president's own climate test for approving the project.  Following the climate speech, DeSmogBlog pointed out, "You can't be a leader on climate action if you're a willing accomplice in accelerating the expansion of one of the largest carbon bombs on the planet."

By not approving TransCanada's pipeline, however, up to 24.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide would not head to the atmosphere, an amount that should be seen as significant to the administration whose fuel efficiency standards for trucks aim to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 27.4 million metric tons in the next seven years.

Rejecting the Keystone XL also means rejecting tar sands, the group says, as other pipelines out of Alberta are at or near capacity, and tar sands refineries are limited. Further, tar sands by rail is costly, making train export of the heavy crude an unlikely possibility.

“Approve [the Keystone XL], and our children’s future is jeopardized. Deny it, and we’ll avoid sending over a billion tons of additional carbon pollution into the air," said Casey-Lefkowitz. "The right choice is obvious: Keystone XL fails the president’s climate test and he should reject it to protect our national interest.”

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