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Keystone XL Fails Obama’s Climate Test: Will He Reject It?

Keystone XL Fails Obama’s Climate Test: Will He Reject It?

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 doesnt 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

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.”

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Image via tarsandsaction

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3:15AM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

Oh, I forgot to add:

For anyone who wants to help. :)

7:11PM PST on Feb 13, 2014

He better. :P

9:21PM PST on Feb 12, 2014

One can only hope!! He has been such a disappointment on the environmental/wildlife front.

7:30AM PST on Feb 12, 2014

President Obama should reject the pipeline proposal.

7:57PM PST on Feb 11, 2014

Found this @

Natural Gas and Coal Measurements and Conversions | Ag ...‎
Natural gas measurements and conversions. 1 cubic foot natural gas (NG) – wet = 1,109 Btu 1 cubic foot ... 36,409 Btu 1 cubic meter – dry = 38.140 megajoules

1 cubic foot = .028317 cubic meters
1 cubic meter – dry = 36,409 Btu
1 cubic meter – dry = 38.140 megajoules
1 cubic meter = 35.314 cubic feet

If you could do the conversion, I tried, But my joke is that I was not a mathamajician!

7:38PM PST on Feb 11, 2014

David, I just checked a Union Gas bill in Thunder Bay ON and with all the 7 extra charges the total come to 28.4009 cents per Cubic Metre.
For 514.977 " "

the total cost was $167.31
21.74 HST combined Federal & Provincial tax

= $190.44 for the period from November 28/2013 to December 31/20

I do not know how many BTU's there are in a cubic metre at the moment, but will pursue it .

3:48PM PST on Feb 10, 2014

We shall see.

5:50AM PST on Feb 10, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

5:13AM PST on Feb 10, 2014

Gerald From 2003-08, shortly before the fracking revolution took hold, the price of natural gas averaged about $7.20 per million BTUs. By 2012 after new fracking operations exploded across the U.S.—from West Texas to Pennsylvania to North Dakota—the increase in natural gas production had slashed the price to $2.80 per million BTUs.
Thanks to the lower price for natural gas, families saved roughly $32.5 billion in 2012. (That's 7.4 billion MMBTUs of residential use of natural gas times the $4.40 reduction in price.) The windfall to all U.S. natural gas consumers—industrial and residential—was closer to $110 billion. This is greater than the annual income of all of the residents in 14 states in 2011. The poor thank big oil, even though they don’t have a clue why.

11:52PM PST on Feb 9, 2014

*** David F. I like your stats and comparisons to the # of windmills needed to compare to the output of Gas Co-gens. I know the first Co-gen built in Ontario was a heat recovery unit from a Jet engine being used to pump natural gas for TCPL at Keemle lake north of Nipigon ON. They have expanded with a direct couple to a generator, and there are much larger units in Southern Ontario.

But the Wikipedia link does not list Canadian gas Co-gens. It does worry me that so much natural gas is being used to generate electricity when it is the most economical home heating fuel. Some families are paying $6.00 a gallon for propane this winter because of the supposed shortage. Believe me they would be on Natural gas IF it WAS available.

Futtsu, Japan. The power station Jet turbines, All five units run on LNG, a form of natural gas.. I think this is being shipped from British Columbia.

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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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