Quantcast

EPA Confirms Keystone XL Fails President's Climate Test

Climate

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drove what may prove to be the final nail in the coffin for the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in comments released today, linking the project to an expansion of the tar sands and a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

As the Administration concludes its review of Keystone XL, the U.S. EPA's critique of the proposed tar sands pipeline exposes the project's impact on climate—an issue that President Obama said would be a threshold issue in deciding whether to allow the project to move forward. The EPA's letter highlights the Department of State's conclusion that at prices between $65 to $75 a barrel, "the higher transportation costs of shipment by rail 'could have a substantial impact on oil sands production levels—possibly in excess of the capacity of the proposed project.'" Observing that the development of tar sands represents a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA's comments lay the basis for Keystone XL's rejection as failing the President's climate test.

In light of the EPA's comments today, it is worth revisiting the terms of President Obama's climate test for the embattled tar sands pipeline:

"But I do want to be clear. Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires finding that doing so would be in our nation's interests. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."

—President Barack Obama, Speech at Georgetown University, June 25, 2013

The EPA's comments lay a clear framework for Keystone XL's rejection on the basis of this test. In addition to highlighting the likelihood that Keystone XL would have a substantial impact on tar sands expansion:

"[T]he Final SEIS makes clear that, compared to reference crudes, development of oil sands crude represents a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions."

—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Comment letter to the State Department, Feb. 2

As the Administration enters the final stages of the National Interest Determination process for Keystone XL, the EPA urged decision-makers to give more weight to Department of State's low oil price scenario where "construction of the pipeline is projected to change the economics of oil sands development and result in increased oil sands production, and the accompanying greenhouse gas emissions, over what would otherwise occur."

EPA's assessment of Keystone XL underscores a fact that has become increasingly clear—the proposed tar sands would enable expansion of tar sands development which in turn will lead to a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions. It is now clear that Keystone XL fails the President's climate test and should be rejected.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Robert Redford: Fossil Fuels Need to Stay in the Ground, Renewable Energy Is the Future

Pipeline Posse Tells Ed Schultz: ‘It’s Not About the Money, It’s About the Future Generations’

Obama: No Challenge Poses a Greater Threat Than Climate Change

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

New pine trees grow from the forest floor along the North Fork of the Flathead River on the western boundary of Glacier National Park on Sept. 16, 2019 near West Glacier, Montana. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

By Alex Kirby

New forests are an apparently promising way to tackle global heating: the trees absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from human activities. But there's a snag, because permanently lower river flows can be an unintended consequence.

Read More
Household actions lead to changes in collective behavior and are an essential part of social movements. Pixabay / Pexels

By Greg McDermid, Joule A Bergerson, Sheri Madigan

Hidden among all of the troubling environmental headlines from 2019 — and let's face it, there were plenty — was one encouraging sign: the world is waking up to the reality of climate change.

So now what?

Read More
Sponsored
Logging state in the U.S. is seen representing some of the consequences humans will face in the absence of concrete action to stop deforestation, pollution and the climate crisis. Mark Newman / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

Talk is cheap, says the acting executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, who begged governments around the world to make sure that 2020 is not another year of conferences and empty promises, but instead is the year to take decisive action to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and the destruction of habitat-sustaining ecosystems, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
The people of Kiribati have been under pressure to relocate due to sea level rise. A young woman wades through the salty sea water that flooded her way home on Sept. 29, 2015. Jonas Gratzer / LightRocket via Getty Images

Refugees fleeing the impending effects of the climate crisis cannot be forced to return home, according to a new decision by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, as CNN reported. The new decision could open up a massive wave of legal claims by displaced people around the world.

Read More
The first day of the Strike WEF march on Davos on Jan. 18, 2020 near Davos, Switzerland. The activists want climate justice and think the WEF is for the world's richest and political elite only. Kristian Buus / In Pictures via Getty Images

By Ashutosh Pandey

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is returning to the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the 2020 World Economic Forum with a strong and clear message: put an end to the fossil fuel "madness."

Read More