Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club Statement on Keystone Pipeline Report

February 3, 2014

Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club
Statement on Keystone Pipeline Report

For Immediate Release

Contact: Haywood Martin, Chapter Chair
chair@louisiana.sierraclub.org
337-232-7953

The U.S. State Department released its final supplemental environmental impact statement on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, January 31, 2014. Contrary to the impression given in some media stories, this is not the end of the decision-making process. Further steps include a recommendation by the Secretary of State and review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before a final decision by President Obama.

The Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club in Louisiana has joined the national Sierra Club and many other groups, communities, and individuals in opposing construction of the pipeline. The decision on the Keystone XL pipeline represents a historic opportunity for the US to show leadership on moving away from dependence on dirty fossil fuels toward a clean energy economy.

Tar sands remain one of the dirtiest and most expensive sources from which to extract petroleum, with serious impacts on the local environment in Canada, in addition to the wider climate impacts of their expanded production. The new report downplays the project’s emissions, stating that “The proposed Project would emit approximately 0.24 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents (MMTCO2e) per year during the construction period… During operations, approximately 1.44 MMTCO2e would be emitted per year… equivalent to GHG emissions from approximately 300,000 passenger vehicles operating for 1 year, or 71,928 homes using electricity for 1 year.” (Page ES-15)

The draft EIS released in April stated that “annual C02e emissions from the proposed Project [construction and operation] is equivalent to C02e emissions from approximately 626,000 passenger vehicles operating for one year or 398,000 homes using electricity for one year.” (p. ES-15)

We face a global challenge of reducing carbon emissions enough to slow the process of global warming. Offsetting the emissions from expanded production of the tar sands oil adds tremendously to that challenge.

The Economic Benefits of the project for jobs have been consistently overstated by its backers. The well-known Cornell University Global Labor Institute study showed a modest number of jobs would be created and in fact posited a potential net loss of jobs (http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/globallaborinstitute/research/keystonexl.html.)

A number of politicians, pundits, and reporters have repeated the idea that once the tar sands oil is piped over U.S. territory it becomes “ours”, intended for sale in the American market for the purpose of reducing domestic gasoline prices. But the oil processed from the pipeline will sell on the global market, which means exporting to the highest bidders in other countries.
The Oil Change International project issued a report in September 2011 showing that the Valero refining company, a major backer of the pipeline, was planning to export oil from the pipeline from its Gulf Coast facilities, and Canadian officials have openly said that the country wants to diversity its oil markets. (http://priceofoil.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/OCIkeystoneXL_2011R.pdf; http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/09/13/pol-oliver-pipeline-oil....) In a 2012 Congressional hearing, TransCanada executives refused to support a requirement that the oil be sold in the U.S. (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2012/0309/Inside-the-Keystone-pipe...).

Most of Louisiana’s Congressional delegation has supported the pipeline because of its purported economic benefits, but the state should not ignore the climate impacts, since we remain one of the areas of the U.S. most vulnerable to increased sea-level rise, and have in fact been feeling the effects of that process already. Some of Louisiana’s representatives have been fighting the EPA’s attempts to limit coal-plant emissions just as hard as they have been promoting the Keystone Pipeline. This indicates a lack of contact with the reality of what is to come for Louisiana if no real action is taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Background:

U.S. Department of State – Draft EIS on Keystone Pipeline
http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/documents/organization/205719.pdf

U.S. Department of State – Final Supplemental EIS on Keystone Pipeline
http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/documents/organization/221135.pdf

Oil Change International Report: Cooking the Books: How the State Department Analysis Ignores the True Climate Impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline
http://priceofoil.org/content/uploads/2013/04/Cooking_the_Books_FINAL-SC...

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