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
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
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.
In addition, the pipeline, which would
course with some 830,000 barrels of
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
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