Can KXL Pass the President’s Climate Test?

— Tom Steyer, NextGenClimate

At his Georgetown University address this June, President Obama laid down a bold marker on the Keystone XL Pipeline: he would only approve the project if it does not significantly increase carbon pollution.

Since then, we’ve learned the following:

  • Keystone XL is the only viable way to exploit the Canadian tar sands — alternatives like rail could never fully replace the pipeline’s volume.
  • Because of this, Keystone XL’s completion will dramatically speed the extraction of dirty tar sands oil — increasing the rate of production by up to 36%.
  • Accordingly, Keystone XL’s carbon impact is massive. The project would add more carbon to our atmosphere over its lifetime than the combined tailpipe emissions of every car in America for one year.

Now, just 6 months after the President’s promise, the conversation shifts back to Georgetown to evaluate these facts.

“Can Keystone Pass the President’s Climate Test?” is a summit co-hosted by NextGen Climate Action and the Center for American Progress Action Fund that will bring together top academic and private sector experts to look at:

  • the pipeline’s carbon footprint
  • whether that footprint can be meaningfully offset, and
  • what impact the pipeline’s carbon pollution will have on climate change.

RSVP for Monday, December 2nd’s livestream of this event at www.KeystoneTruth.com

Tune in for the truth: the Keystone XL Pipeline is not in our national interest.

A Watershed Moment Against Keystone XL?

The Keystone XL fight is now, officially, on our terms.

In a surprise announcement, in his first major address on climate change in four-and-a-half years as President, Barack Obama said that he would not approve Keystone XL if it significantly increased carbon emissions.1

This is huge. It is a huge sign that the pressure we have put on the administration is working.  More than 62,000 people have pledged to engage in civil disobedience if necessary to stop Keystone XL, precisely because it will lead to “game over for the climate” by lighting the fuse to detonate the carbon bomb of the Alberta tar sands into our atmosphere.

It is also a huge sign that we must keep our pressure on. After all, the State Department’s first sham environmental evaluation found that Keystone XL would not substantially increase climate emissions – flying in the face of the EPA,2 climate scientists,3 and the economists and oil industry executives who know that Keystone XL will speed development of the tar sands.

Deciding Keystone XL based on its climate impacts is a fight we can win – but only if we keep fighting.

Also in today’s speech was the President’s announcement that his administration was moving forward on a rule to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants. This too is huge news, and something that CREDO and our activists have been pushing the President to do since before the failure of the climate bill in 2009.

Taken together, setting the terms for rejecting Keystone XL and moving forward on limiting carbon pollution from existing power plants, were the two most important things President Obama could have done today. More than anything else, we are grateful for this leadership.

We know the President will be facing ferocious opposition and attacks from the fossil fuel industry, and the science-denying Republican obstructionists who serve them. So while we have a lot of work to do, today is an important day to thank the President for his leadership.

Of course, the speech wasn’t perfect – far from it. In addition to disappointing calls to expand natural gas development, the steps laid out today simply weren’t enough to solve our climate change problem on their own.

But this is a significant step forward from an administration that for years was afraid to even say the word “climate,” and today gave a full-throated endorsement of the need for our action, and for global leadership to fulfill our moral obligation to protect people all around the world from the damage that has already begun.

This is a testament to your pressure and your activism. And it only affirms our commitment to redoubling all of our efforts, including the Pledge of Resistance, to oppose Keystone XL and fight climate change.

There’s a lot more to do, but mostly today, we are shocked by this surprise announcement, and grateful that the president is finally leading in the fight against climate change. Click the button below to sign the petition thanking President Obama.

Thanks for standing with us.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

sign-the-petition

 

 

Learn more about this campaign

1. “In climate speech, Obama sets carbon limits on Keystone project,” The Hill, 6/25/13
2. “How much does EPA’s objection to Keystone XL matter? A lot.” Washington Post, 4/25/13
3. “Scientists: Key Parts of State Dept Keystone Review Are ‘Without Merit’,” Inside Climate, 6/4/12

Speaker Boehner & his GOP Brethren Approve KXL, Spread Propaganda

I certainly hope that Representative Mark Amodei and Representative Joe Heck made a call to their insurance agents and purchased personal liability insurance for Tar Sands oil spills, because today the voted FOR passage of HR3, the Northern Route Approval Act, legislation introduced by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) that approves construction of the Keystone pipeline. That means they are complicit in enabling the eventual pollution of our land, our aquifers and our nation’s breadbasket that puts food on our tables.  You think the Arkansas spill was bad?  Just wait, the eventual KXL pipeline spill will be absolutely catastrophic and we need to be prepared to hold each and every representative in Congress who voted for this catastrophe accountable.

Following the House vote on HR 3, Speaker immediately put out a press release that is tantamount to pure propaganda claiming the construction of the KXL pipeline will create 10s of thousands of jobs and will swamp our gas stations with abundant supplies of cheap gas.  The reality, however, is that if the KXL pipeline IS constructed, it will suck every gallon of gas they can pump out the the US down that pipeline for shipment to foreign countries, leaving us high and dry, with astronomical gas prices for the remainder of many of our lifetimes.  Here’s Speaker Boehner’s press release:

House Votes to Approve Keystone Pipeline, Create Tens of Thousands of Jobs & Increase Energy Security

Posted by Speaker Boehner Press Office
May 22, 2013
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today applauded House passage of the Northern Route Approval Act (H.R. 3), legislation introduced by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) that approves the Keystone pipeline and eliminates legal and regulatory barriers to its construction and the tens of thousands of jobs it will create:

“When American families hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, they’ll once again be paying the price for the Obama administration’s failed energy policy.  Gas prices have nearly doubled on the president’s watch, draining family budgets and making it harder for small businesses to hire.  The Northern Route Approval Act, part of Republicans’ plan for economic growth and jobs, will help families and small businesses by approving the Keystone pipeline and removing barriers that could keep it tied up in legal limbo for years. 

“The Keystone pipeline will create tens of thousands of American jobs and pump nearly a million barrels of oil to U.S. refineries each day, helping to lower gas prices, boost economic growth, enhance our energy security, and revitalize manufacturing.  The project is backed by a majority of the American people, including members of the president’s own party.  Labor unions have rallied for its approval, saying it’s ‘not just a pipeline, it’s a lifeline.’  Unfortunately, after nearly five years of blocking the project, it’s a lifeline President Obama is refusing to toss American workers.

“House Republicans will continue fighting for the Keystone pipeline as part of our jobs plan that cuts red tape and unlocks more of America’s resources.  It is time for the president to put his political calculations aside, work with Republicans to approve the Keystone pipeline, and advance a growth and jobs agenda that will help our economy grow and put more Americans back to work.”

But just weeks ago, we learned from Ryan Koronowski, who posted an article on ThinkProgress, that the pipeline will not create 10s of thousands of jobs, but instead, will create a measly 35 permanent jobs, a far cry from even just 1000 permanent jobs.  And, to make matters worse, it will exacerbate the problems we’re experiencing with climate change.  The refining process for tar sands crude (if you can really define crude as tar sands mixed in toxic proprietary solvents) will emit more carbon into the atmosphere than 51 seriously dirty coal plants.  Not only that, but a series of amendments, some dealing with pipeline safety and the cost of cleaning up potential pipeline spills, were all defeated along party lines.  So once again, the GOP has shown us their true colors, showing preference to corporate profits and choosing to socialize cleanup costs for the corporations.

Keystone Pipeline Will Create Only 35 Permanent Jobs, Emit 51 Coal Plants’ Worth Of Carbon

By Ryan Koronowski on Apr 17, 2013 at 7:15 pm

On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that he wasn’t touching the Keystone pipeline decision with a ten-foot pole:

“I am staying as far away from that as I can now so that when the appropriate time comes to me, I am not getting information from any place I shouldn’t be, and I am not getting engaged in the debate at a time that I shouldn’t be,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

Right now, Kerry has the State Department’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, but if that is all he information he relies on, he won’t get the full picture. While he will see that the project will only bring 35 permanent jobs, which is true, he would also see almost no discussion of the pipeline’s impact on the climate. (Oddly, he will be able to read an extended discussion of climate change’s projected impacts on the construction and maintenance of the proposed pipeline.)

So where is a Secretary of State sincerely concerned about climate change to go to find the climate consequences of approving the Keystone XL pipeline? He could peruse a new report out yesterday from Oil Change International called: “Cooking the Books: How The State Department Analysis Ignores The True Climate Impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline.”

The report’s recommendation:

In a world constrained by the realities of climate change, the proper measure of any project’s climate impact should not be based on the assumptions inherent in a business as usual scenario that guarantees climate disaster. Instead, the State Department should base these critical decisions on whether the project makes sense in a world that is actually seeking to minimize the real dangers of climate change. On this basis, we recommend that decision-makers consider the total amount of carbon that will be released by the project into the atmosphere.

How do they back that up?

  • Using industry analysis of carbon emissions from current tar sands production, the report says the pipeline will carry and emit 181 million metric tons of CO2 every year. That’smore than 37.7 million cars or 51 coal plants.
  • Both the IEA and the World Bank have said that if we want to avoid the catastrophic implications of warming the planet by more than 2 degrees C, we cannot burn any more than one-third of the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves by 2050.
  • U.S. oil demand has fallen by 2.25 million barrels per day, but if we want to cut emissions to hold global temperature below 2 degrees C, there are very few scenarios that include a Keystone pipeline pumping 3.3 million barrels or tar sands oil per day.
  • Petcoke, which is a byproduct of the tar sands refining process, is exported for use as a coal substitute. Since petcoke is cheaper than coal, this encourages more coal burning, and therefore more carbon emissions. The State Department’s EIS does not acknowledge this.
  • The pipeline’s pump stations will emit 4.4 million metric tons of CO2 each year, after 240,000 metric tons during the construction phase. This is like adding an extra U.S. coal plant. This pipeline, remember, will pump 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil every day.
  • Tar sands pollute more than conventional oil — 27 million more metric tons of CO2 according to the EPA. This would be the same as 7 coal plants. Tar sands are so carbon intensive because of the way it burns, and how much energy is required to extract it. The State Department acknowledged that this will cause 17 percent more carbon emissions than regular oil.

Won’t the tar sands be extracted whether the pipeline is approved or rejected? Not so:

There are many compelling arguments against the fatalistic assertion that the tar sands will be fully exploited regardless of the Keystone XL pipeline. Other proposed pipelines also face substantial opposition in Canada and other regions of the United States. Further, increased costs associated with alternatives such as rail make it clear that the Keystone XL pipeline is far and away the industry’s first choice, and industry experts have been the first to admit this.

The State Department EIS dismisses out of hand the implications of burning the oil we’re projected to burn, saying it is business as usual. But this business is leading us to a very unusual climate future. The idea of approving the Keystone pipeline becomes more impossible as the facts become clearer. We can only hope that Secretary Kerry will stay engaged in the real debate and make the right choice for a livable climate.

[The article above, originally posted on ThinkProgress,  was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.]

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Foreign Corporation (TransCanada) Using Eminent Domain to Steal Private Land

Right now in Texas, a foreign corporation, TransCanada, is using our government’s 5th Amendment right of eminent domain to confiscate private land belonging to Americans, to build a massive oil pipeline so TransCanada can ship oil from the Gulf of Mexico to non-Americans around the world. Oil, by the way, that will accelerate our planet’s plunge into global warming-induced catastrophe. So the question is, “Why?

TransCanada Attempting to Obliterate Our First Amendment Rights

On Tuesday, peaceful protesters blocking Keystone XL pipeline construction equipment in Texas were brutalized by police at the request and encouragement of TransCanada officials.1

The two protesters, who had handcuffed themselves together on TransCanada’s construction equipment, were subjected to choke holds, stress positions in which their free arms were handcuffed, contorted, and then pepper sprayed, burning their skin. They were then tased — one of the activists was tased twice.

There is no excuse for subjecting peaceful, defenseless protesters to this level of violence.

Reports indicate these tactics were carried out at the request direct of the TransCanada officials on the scene, who later congratulated police on a “job well done.”2

Police had been peaceful toward the protesters before TransCanada officials arrived. Then TransCanada officials encouraged police to “run off” the activists who were observing the protest. Once the cameras were out of sight, the unnecessary brutality was used until the pain became too much for the protesters.

Law enforcement officers are also known as peace officers. Their job is to protect the peace and serve the public, not corporations. Nonviolent civil disobedience has played a key role in winning social change in the U.S. In Texas, peaceful protesters are putting their bodies on the line to literally block TransCanada’s machinery because they see this as a key battle in our fight against climate change.

It is the job of the police to arrest these protesters and, in the absence of violent resistance, to do so without violence or brutality. If this slows down the work of TransCanada, so be it.

TransCanada has a history of lying to, bullying and strong-arming landowners. Now it is bringing violence upon peaceful protesters. If citizens are so moved to right a wrong that they will line up to be arrested in front of TransCanada’s machines, then TransCanada will have to wait while police safely and humanely arrest them.

We cannot let TransCanada’s brutality intimidate protesters into standing down, we cannot allow our public safety officers be commandeered as violent tools of a foreign oil company. And we will not let TransCanada jam its apocalyptic pipeline down our throats without due process of law.

The courageous protesters are taking action because they see the risk of doing nothing in the face of the “game over for the climate” Keystone XL pipeline as greater than the risk of personal harm as a result of their protest and arrest. They are playing an essential role to slow construction right now, and we need to do what we can to stand with them, and pressure TransCanada to ensure that peaceful protesters are treated safely, not with completely undue brutality.

Click below to automatically sign the petition to stand with the tar sands blockaders in Texas:

Thanks for fighting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Resources:

  1. TransCanada Actively Encouraged Torture Tactics to be Used on Peaceful Protesters,” Tar Sands Blockade, 9/25/12
  2. TransCanada Urges Texas Police to Use “Aggressive Pain Compliance Tactics” on Keystone XL Blockaders,” Fire Dog Lake, 9/26/12