In June 2013, Obama announced his “Climate Action Plan” during a speech at Georgetown University. Reactions were mixed, but one part stood out like a beacon.
“Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our national interest,” Obama said during the announcement speech at Georgetown University. “Our national interest will be served only if this project doesn‘t significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project can go forward.”
This week, the U.S. State Department released its second Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. Although it’s likely that Big Oil influenced the conclusions drawn in the report (again), even the State Department couldn’t deny that building a giant pipeline to transport 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day will indeed lead to increased carbon pollution.
In its final environmental review, the State Department acknowledge that the Keystone XL could accelerate climate change, adding the equivalent of 5.7 million new cars to the road. Yes, they said a lot of other things, too. But that shouldn’t matter. All that other stuff, all 11 volumes of it, is white noise. If President Obama meant what he said at Georgetown, the Keystone XL has already failed the climate test and should be rejected immediately.
By this point, it should be obvious that our government is in bed with the fossil fuel industry. They let a former Transcanada employee help write the first Keystone XL Environmental Impact Statement, for goodness sake. So it’s no surprise that the report ultimately concluded that the “approval or denial of…the proposed Project is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands.”
They’re trying to hide behind the fact that we’ve become so greedy, so detached from the consequences of our actions, that someone will find a way to extract and burn that tar sands oil, pipeline or not. Clearly, Transcanada and the American refineries that stand to profit from the pipeline want it to be them; air quality, water quality, farmers, ranchers and endangered wildlife, be damned.
But is that really true?
“Tar sands oil and shale oil are currently moving south via rail at such a rate that last year was the worst ever for accidents involving trains hauling oil, with dozens killed. This transportation method is likely to face opposition and increased regulation,” wrote Salvatore Cardoni for TakePart.com.
Both sides are dug in, and both are interpreting the science in the way that makes their camp look best. Many questions remain: What will President Obama do? Will he cave to the fossil fuel industry and approve it? Will he make good on his promise and reject it? Will he bail and leave the decision for whoever wins the 2016 election? Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, there’s no time to rest.
Now begins a 30-day public comment period. As NatGeo reports, “The Departments of Energy, Defense, Transportation, Homeland Security, Justice, Interior, and Commerce, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all will have a say, but the final decision rests with the White House. It’s unclear what the Obama administration will decide, but here are the three big factors that will shape the decision—and, with it, define Obama’s environmental legacy.”
Image via tarsandsaction