Sen. Tim Kaine Says He Opposes the Keystone Because Tar Sands Oil is 'Dirtier.' But Is It?

Earlier today on MSNBC, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) insisted that he bases his opposition to the widely popular Keystone XL Pipeline on science. That pipeline, if completed, would bring Canadian tar sands oil across the United States to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas.

Kaine says his problem with the pipeline project isn't the pipeline itself, but the oil it would transport.

Chuck Todd asks Kaine, "Where do you stand on Keystone?"

"I'm against it," Kaine replies, "not because of the pipeline"

"I don't think we should be exploiting the oil...Tar sands oil is dirtier."

Shawn Martini of the Consumer Energy Alliance says the science isn't with Kaine on this.

"It's one of things that sounds good," Martini says, "But there's no context."

Martini continued: "GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions from oil sands crude account for 0.0016% of global emissions. Oil sands crude, on a wheels to wheels basis, is just as GHG intensive as Californian or Venezuelan crude. The plus side being that KXL will offset almost all of U.S. imports from Venezuela, further reducing the GHG footprint on a lifecycle basis due to lower emissions from transporting the oil.

"Moreover, since the oilsands in Canada will be developed even if KXL is not build ( a fact affirmed by the State Department’s EIS), it would be better to refine said crude oil here in the states where we have pollution controls, and high tech refineries that can get the most refined product out of every barrel. As opposed to incurring the GHG footprint of shipping the oil across the Pacific to China, where it will be refined without the benefit of environmental protections and air quality standards found in the US.

"Our policy continues to support the development of the Keystone XL pipeline as a way to lower emissions, increase energy security, and grow our economy," Martini said in a statement provided to the PJ Tatler.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that about 65% of Americans approve building the pipeline, but President Barack Obama and some Democrats have dragged out construction for several years now.