Economics for the Earth Blog

Environmental, landowner and consumer groups ask State Department to revise its market analysis of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

Posted Jul. 31, 2014 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

Groups demand pipeline decision include new evidence

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, 12 environmental, landowner and consumer organizations asked the State Department to consider recent developments that highlight Keystone XL’s critical role in enabling tar sands expansion in its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

In their letter, the groups argue that new evidence shows that Keystone XL will have significant climate impacts. “Several highly publicized developments in recent months have clearly demonstrated that constructing the Keystone XL pipeline would expand the tar sands industry and significantly contribute to climate change,” said Luísa Abbott Galvão, Climate and energy associate at Friends of the Earth. “It is crucial that recent market realities be considered to ensure an informed and responsible decision.”

Last month, the State Department published a revised report that updated statistics on projected deaths risked by increasing traffic of crude by rail. “This revision ignored substantial new evidence that rail hasn’t proved a feasible substitute for pipelines for tar sands producers,” said Anthony Swift, staff attorney and the Natural Resources Defense Council, “and that’s why we’re seeing tar sands producers pulling the plug on new projects rather than pivot toward rail. Their costs are already too high and rail is too expensive.”

Landowners in Nebraska are especially impacted by the current flawed analysis."Without pipelines like Keystone XL, tar sands can simply not expand to the levels the State Department predicts,” said Jane Kleeb, Director of Bold Nebraska. “The model is flawed and we ask on behalf of farmers and ranchers whose land is in the path of this risky, carbon-heavy tar sands that we get it right before so much wrong happens to our land and water.”

In last year’s historic Georgetown University speech, President Obama promised that his decision on Keystone XL would be based on a climate test. Recent evidence from the tar sands industry further confirms that the approval of Keystone XL is crucial for tar sands development. "It's clear that Keystone XL fails President Obama's climate test," said Michael Bosse of the Sierra Club's Beyond Oil Campaign. "What's more, America doesn't need another dirty, dangerous tar sands pipeline spewing toxic oil into our neighborhoods, communities, and drinking water. The State Department's final report must rely on established facts, not twisted half-truths. The sooner we get tar sands crude behind us, the sooner our nation can get to work creating real prosperity with clean energy.”

Another development on Keystone XL is that since the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was released TransCanada’s permits in South Dakota have expired. “In early 2009, when TransCanada applied to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for the Keystone XL permit, the request was largely based on a perceived need for the pipeline. US demand for oil was growing at around 1.5% a year and domestic production was declining,” said Paul Seamans, Board Chair of Dakota Rural Action and landowner crossed by the Keystone XL pipeline route. “These two situations have since flip-flopped, US demand is now decreasing around 1% per year and the US is on track to be the world’s largest oil producer. This brings into question even the need for the Keystone XL. Dakota Rural Action will be stressing this point at any Keystone XL certification hearings held by the PUC, and will be pushing the PUC to deny the certification of TransCanada's permit.”

The State Department must consider the latest developments when it decides whether Keystone XL is in the national interest.

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Contacts:
EA Dyson, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0744, edyson@foe.org
Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska, (402) 705-3622, jane@boldnebraska.org
Paul Seamans, Dakota Rural Action Board Chair and landowner crossed by the KXL pipeline route, (605) 669-2777, jacknife@goldenwest.net
Jake Thompson, Natural Resources Defense Council, (202) 289-2387, jthompson@nrdc.org
Mark Westlund, Sierra Club, (415) 977-5719, mark.westlund@sierraclub.org

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