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Campaign Update Big Oil’s Dirty Secret: Keystone XL Is Vital to Its Tar Sand New NRDC report shows tar sands pipeline fails Obama’s climate test, will worsen global warming I n June, President Obama drew children will be suffering from the develop these tar sands a clear line in the sand for the climate chaos produced by this pipeline.” no matter what, so all proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, vowing to reject the 2,000mile behemoth if it would “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” So, does the gargantuan pipeline, which would snake from Alberta’s tar sands fields through the American heartland to refineries on the Gulf Coast, fail that test? “No question, it fails,” says Susan CaseyLefkowitz, director of NRDC’s Great Bear rainforest and Spirit Bear © Ian McAllister; tar sands © Jiri Rezac; owl © Gerry Ellis/Minden Pictures; train wreck © Associated Press International Program. 4 Given the pipeline’s clear and far-reaching impacts on our climate, the president’s declaration would appear to doom the project — but not so fast. “Big Oil is now engaged in the bluff of a lifetime,” Casey-Lefkowitz says. “And the this global warming pollution is going to happen whether or not the Keystone XL gets built,’” says Casey-Lefkowitz. president’s own State Department has There’s only one problem with that been buying it.” Charged with evaluating logic: It’s not true. “There aren’t any the project because it would cross the viable alternatives for moving all that U.S. border with Canada, the State tar sands oil out of Canada,” says NRDC Department offered its initial assess­ment attorney Anthony Swift, who has been working to expose these A new and detailed analysis of the claims in the national media. project by NRDC reveals that the “The entire tar sands enter­ Keystone XL would add a staggering prise is hanging on the amount of carbon pollution to our skies Keystone XL. If we can — up to 1.2 billion metric tons more stop that, we can head off than if it carried conventional crude. the climate-wrecking In addition, the pipeline, which would impacts.” Indeed, course with some 830,000 barrels of industry insiders heavy tar sands crude per day, would and analysts have dramatically boost the development conceded as much. of this dirty fuel. Indeed, the Keystone XL is the linchpin of Big Oil’s plans Tar sands mining operation, Alberta, Canada. Inset: Boreal owl, imperiled by development. In a report released in June, the financial to more than triple heavy tar sands in March. Incredibly, the depart­ment powerhouse Goldman Sachs concluded production over the next 20 years. concluded that Keystone XL would not that nixing Keystone XL would result Prod­uction of tar sands oil requires signif­icantly increase carbon pollution. in the cancellation or deferment of more energy than the produc­t ion How is that possible? Officials argued numerous tar sands expansion projects: of any other fossil fuel on earth, that if the pipeline weren’t built, the “[W]e believe risk would grow that generating three times the carbon same amount of tar sands oil would find Canadian heavy oil/oil sands supply pollution of conventional crude, for its way out of Canada anyway — via would remain trapped in the province example. “The expected life span of the other pipelines, for example, or by rail. of Alberta,” the firm’s report states. Keystone XL is 50 years,” says Casey- “Basically the State Department is saying, Canada’s own RBC Bank has reached a Lefkowitz. “That means our grand­ ‘Look, the oil industry is going to similar conclusion, saying that rejection

Nature's Voice Fall 2013

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