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Keystone XL Opponents Argue Pipeline Would Carry More ‘Carbon Intensive’ Product

Kerry: "I’m going to look at all the arguments, both sides, all sides, whatever, evaluate them and make the best judgment I can."

by
Rodrigo Sermeño

Bio

March 18, 2014 - 11:15 pm

WASHINGTON – Environmental advocates told a Senate panel that approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would be “catastrophic,” while supporters argued that energy independence is especially critical as Russia wields a heavier hand in the world.

Lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee mainly rehashed many of the same political arguments on the issue. Democrats mostly expressed opinions opposing the pipeline, while Republicans argued the case for building the pipeline is, as Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) put it, “clear and compelling.”

The proposed 875-mile pipeline would link Morgan, Mont., at the Canadian border to Steele City, Neb., and ultimately link up with other pipelines that would carry the oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast. It would have a capacity of 830,000 barrels of crude oil from Canada and the Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota and Montana.

Veteran climatologist James Hansen, formerly of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, called tar sands the world’s “dirtiest fuel” and said that Keystone would drive further development of the tar sands in Canada.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said that transporting tar sand oils by rail or through pipelines is not safe, noting that any spill would be “catastrophic.”

“The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would cut through more than a thousand miles of American farms and ranches, carrying oil that is more toxic, corrosive, difficult to clean up, and more carbon intensive all the way to the Gulf, where most of the oil would be exported,” he said.

Brune cited research by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), advising that in order to keep global warming below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit the world should not tap into fossil fuel reserves underground, particularly the most carbon-intensive fuel sources, such as the tar sands in Canada.

“The choice is not whether to accept increased risk through rail…or pipeline, but whether to take this oil out of the ground to begin with,” he said.

Supporters of Keystone testifying before the committee framed their national interest argument around energy security and economic opportunity.

Ret. Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones, president of the Jones Group International, said the energy abundance in Mexico and Canada provides North America with the opportunity to become an “energy hub.”

Jones said the pipeline approval decision would be “a litmus test of whether the United States is serious about national and energy security.”

“Why would the United States spend billions of dollars and place our military personnel at risk to ensure the flow of energy half a world away, but neglect an opportunity to enable the flow of energy in our very own back yard — creating jobs, tax revenue, and greater security?” he said.

Jones said that approving the pipeline would send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin and other “international bullies” that they cannot use energy security as a weapon.

“Energy scarcity is a potent strategic weapon. The greater the gap between global supply and demand, the more destructive the weapons will become,” Jones said. “If we want to make Mr. Putin’s day and strengthen his hand, we should reject the Keystone. If we want to gain an important measure of national energy security, jobs, tax revenue, and prosperity to advance our work on the spectrum of energy solutions that don’t rely on carbon, it should be approved.”

Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, said “energy vulnerability equals geopolitical vulnerability” and the question was whether the U.S. will get oil from Canada or other countries that “don’t share our democratic values and principles.”

After committee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) repeatedly pressed Harbert on whether the Chamber of Commerce believes man-made emissions are driving climate change, she replied, “We believe we should be doing everything within our power to address the environment” before agreeing that “the climate is warming, without a doubt.”

She added that climate change is caused by “lots of different things and you cannot say it’s only caused by humans.”

“We have a robust debate going on in this country, as we should, and those that say everything is settled undercut the integrity of science,” she said. “This is an ongoing discussion.”

Hansen told Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) during another heated exchange about climate change that “no one said it was all man-made.”

“However, the man-made effect is now dominant,” Hansen added.

Johnson, though, said “the science is far from settled.”

The State Department will determine whether the proposed project is in the national interest. The State Department’s review of Keystone’s environmental impact includes whether the pipeline would lead to more carbon-dioxide emissions.

State Secretary John Kerry told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee Thursday that the evaluation should wrap up in 60 days if it continues without delay. Kerry, a longtime environmental advocate, said that he would approach the issue with a clean slate.

“I’m not at liberty to go into my thinking at this point,” he said. “It’s just not appropriate, except to say to you that I am approaching this, you know, tabula rasa. I’m going to look at all the arguments, both sides, all sides, whatever, evaluate them and make the best judgment I can about what is in the national interest.”

Rodrigo is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Both sides are talking past each other - it's almost pointless. The environmental radicals are invoking AGW theory as settled science and using the pipeline as a boogeyman.

And when all is said and done Keystone will add something like 1% more pipeline to the existing infrastructure in US?

Kerry as arbitrator is disturbing. He didn't need to tell us he'd approach the decision 'tabula rasa'...we already know his tabula is permanently rasa.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
There was a time when the Secretary of State was a knowledgable trusted advisor with whom a President would seek counsel. He would also be expected to implement the President's policies. But in the absence of a definable foreign policy the office has devolved into a consolation prize for rivals or, worse yet, a patronage job.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I’m going to look at all the arguments, both sides, all sides, whatever, evaluate them and make the best judgment I can about what is in the national interest.”

Which is precisely the problem; Kerry's judgement stinks.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (26)
All Comments   (26)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
The tar sands oil is going to be coming out of the ground regardless of the Keystone XL pipeline. If we don't use it, China will. From a global atmospheric CO2 standpoint it doesn't matter where the oil is processed. Either way it will contribute to man-made CO2 emissions in the same quantity. The Keystone XL pipeline will bring badly needed jobs to our economy. The CO2 argument is a nonsequitor because whether we or the Chinese process this oil is irrelevant from an AGW standpoint.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
My analysis, exactly. Why can't the President and the environmental activists understand that?
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
progressives 'splainin' science, what could go rong?

n.a.s.a. 'splainin' about muslim superiority in science

n.s.a. 'splainin' how to be a peeping tom

i.r.s. 'splainin' how to use power against enemies

d.o.j. 'splainin' how to do cibil rights (jus fer sertain groups)

m.s.m. 'splainin' how to cover their messiah's news

e.p.a. psychologists 'splainin' how global warmin' deniers belong in prison

feminists 'splainin' how to do everything 'for the chilren' using opm

military (gay) parades?

affirmative action gone crazy in gov hiring and promotions.

if somebody had just woke up from a 5 year coma, would they believe how a commie kenyan w/o any legal documentation could destroy our country just by giving away other people's stuff for votes? heck, somebody wake me up, please!

btw, soros and friends are making big $$ by hauling oil by rail and trucks, burning gads of fossil fuels. the kenyan has been ordered to stand down on the pipeline by his real bosses.

36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
To paraphrase Mr. Kerry..... No.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hansen is doing the Obama thing, lying by way of obfuscation, when he says "no one said it was all man-made." In the next paragraph he says "the man-made effect is now dominant' - which makes his previous disclaimer just worthless words.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama and his advisors are short-sighted in the extreme. The Canadian oil will go out into world markets, one way or another. If it goes south through the XL pipeline then the US economy will benefit from it. If that route is not available, it will go into the world market through ports in British Columbia. The overall world environmental carbon impact will be the same, just that knuckle-headed environmentalists in the US will have excluded US market participation in the project.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
What opponents (read:Progressive New Left Activists) of Keystone Pipeline ARE not telling America. From Nebraska's Pipeline Association's web page we have the following statement:
"There are some 20,090 miles of hazardous liquid and natural gas pipelines (includes interstate, intrastate, and distribution lines) in Nebraska."
"Pipelines in Nebraska may include large-diameter lines carrying energy products to population centers, as well as small-diameter lines that may deliver natural gas to businesses and households in your neighborhood. The energy products carried in pipelines fuel our lives and our livelihoods. They heat our homes and schools, power our industrial base and enable our daily commutes.
Pipelines are by far the safest method for transporting energy products. Nevertheless, they can and sometimes do rupture, posing serious risk. That's why we encourage everyone in Nebraska to learn about pipelines and the products they carry, as well as a few simple steps you can take to help us ensure pipeline safety in your community."
Folks, that's 20,090 miles of pipeline already crisscrossing the State of Nebraska, north to south, east to west. Nary a spill, leak, explosion, environmental disaster nor community complaints. Pretty awesome record. It is said the Keystone Pipeline has technological enhancements that withstand both summer and winter climates as do all 20,090 miles of existing pipelines already installed in Nebraska. So, PNLA's: 1)defend, 2)deflect and3)disinform attacks are flimflammery, kabuki theatre of the highest order. Build the Pipeline. Period. Enough waste of taxpayers hard earned tax dollars on useless, redundant studies and delays. God Bless America. Pray. Amen.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sure, its an election year and the Democrats need their base to turn out big this year if they hope to hold on to the Senate. It has already been decided not to build, they just need the political cover for it. Probably not approving it is going to cost them the Senate anyway so I think for the Democrats it is a no win situation for them.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is all an enormous subterfuge on the part of the Obama administration, concealing his petty, overriding agenda.

Those who claim that Obama "doesn't have a foreign policy" could not be more wrong. He has a very definite foreign policy, which he pursues with single-minded determination. It can be summed up in two words: Undermine Israel.

Who was the very first forelgn leader he called upon assuming the office of the presidency? Mahmoud Abbas.

Why did he sit on his hands during the Green Revolt in Iran back in '09, then proceed to do everything in his power to thwart unilateral Israeli action on Iran's nuke program, and finally, sign a sham "interim agreement" over the same? Because the threat of an imminently nuclear Iran is the most powerful tool of leverage Obama has in blackmailing Israel to submit to his will on this issue. You all think it is merely coincidence that the time frame for these "negotiations" with Iran just HAPPEN to run parallel to the time frame he sets for "peace talks" between Israel and the thugs of the PA?

Why did Obama support the MB regime of Morsi in Egypt? In order to install a rabid Islamist regime at Israel's back doorstep. Why did Obama align the U.S. so closely with that Islamist despot, Erdogan of Turkey? In order to place another rabid Islamist dog at Israel's front doorstep.

I could go on with more examples, but I think you get the picture.

Point being: THERE IS NO WAY OBAMA WILL APPROVE THE KEYSTONE PIPELINE.

Why? In order to punish Canada's PM Harper for the latter's genuine support of Israel. Never mind all the rationalizations. That is what this boils down to.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Both sides are talking past each other - it's almost pointless. The environmental radicals are invoking AGW theory as settled science and using the pipeline as a boogeyman.

And when all is said and done Keystone will add something like 1% more pipeline to the existing infrastructure in US?

Kerry as arbitrator is disturbing. He didn't need to tell us he'd approach the decision 'tabula rasa'...we already know his tabula is permanently rasa.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, and the sh... he put's on his hair is a carbon intense product too, and so are the plastic bottles of Heinz Ketchup he uses to feed his carbon based life form.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
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