Keystone XL – State Department says no major environmental impact (!)

  • Published on January 31st, 2014

Oh, the chutzpah.

An environmental impact statement (written by a consulting firm under investigation for lying about their extensive oil-industry ties) has concluded that the Keystone XL pipeline will have zero effect on the environment and climate change.

The ludicrous reasoning behind that assessment?

“Approval or denial of any single project is unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction of the oil in the oil sands, or the refining of heavy crude on the U.S. gulf coast.”

Which is a very Zen way of doing business. “Hey, pollution happens one way or another. What difference does it make which particular company does it? Whatev. Don’t get all bent out of shape, dude.”

As Dan Weiss  Center for American Progress says, “It’s like giving up on the interdiction of cocaine traffic into our country, because drugs are going to get in anyway.”

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This despite the obvious fact that actually, without KXL, the ugly tar sands will NOT grow as large or as FAST.

“Long-term, we do need Keystone to be able to grow the volumes in Canada,” as Canadian oilman Steve Laut told the Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto. Laut is president of Canada’s largest heavy-oil producer, so he should know what he’s talking about.

Just as a reminder, the pipeline will:

  • Punch through the American heartland, exposing the breadbasket of American agriculture to devastating oil spills.
  • Facilitate the further exploitation of what is already an environmental disaster in Northern Canada.
  • Definitely lead to HIGHER gas prices in the Midwest.
  • Not even provide gasoline or diesel for the US market – it shunts the oil right across the US to Gulf Coast refineries, many of which are already under contract to export the finished products to South American and China.
  • Scientist James Hansen has said the tar sands oil is so bad that if Keystone is approved, “It’s basically game over for the climate.”

(For more background, see Meteor Blades’ excellent post from earlier today.)

It will make a LOT of money for some people, but is in no way in the over-arching US National Interest.

As Jim Murphy of the National Wildlife Federation adds,

“The question going into the State Department’s final environmental impact statement is this: Who will State listen to? Will State reverse course after listening to the Environmental Protection Agency experts who criticized the first draft as ‘inadequate‘ and the second draft as ‘insufficient’ on climate impacts, oil spill risks, and threats to water resources? What about Canada’s own government or the oil industry, which has repeatedly said Keystone XL is needed to realize tar sands growth plans that Canada projects will cause its own carbon emissions to soar 38% by 2030? Or will State stand by the oil industry consultants it hired to write that first draft currently being investigated for conflicts of interest?”

The one bright side: This is NOT the final decision. As White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today, “when that document is released, it does not, or will not, represent a decision, but rather another step in the process.”

The next step: The results of the State Department investigation into the very contractor that submitted today’s Environmental Impact Statement, for the conflict of interest mentioned by Jim Murphy.

Here’s more from Truthout:

The draft environmental impact statement that the State Department reviewed was not done by the agency itself but by a contractor, Environmental Resources Management, and paid for by TransCanada itself. Contractors who worked on the statement also worked on previous TransCanada pipelines as well as for companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Koch Gateway Pipeline Company — all of whom could benefit from the project. It was later found that the State Department intentionally kept the public in the dark about the connections. To make matters worse, Environmental Resources Management is listed as a member of industry groups such as the American Petroleum Institute, Western Energy Alliance, and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. Conflict of interest?


About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.