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New Report Confirms Keystone Pipeline Won't Increase Emissions


A new study released Thursday confirms that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline—oil infrastructure that would bring oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries along America’s Gulf Coast—will not have an impact on carbon emissions. The study, conducted by the energy consulting group IHS CERA, echoes the findings of a draft State Department report released in March.

Environmental groups have protested the proposed pipeline, expressing concerns about the emissions that would be produced by the Canadian oil. This oil burns particularly dirty and requires a considerable input of energy to extract it. In a speech in June on climate change, President Obama pledged to permit the pipeline “only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” Many greens latched on to this as evidence that the White House would scrap the pipeline project.

But it seemed far more likely to us at the time that President Obama was shrewdly prepping his green base for a letdown on the issue. Here’s why: the pipeline itself won’t have an effect on the emissions of the oil it’s transporting. That oil is coming out of the ground regardless of this specific piece of infrastructure. The market incentive to bring that oil to market will overcome any specific green concerns. If it doesn’t travel to refineries by the Keystone pipeline, it will be shipped by rail (a more dangerous method of transportation, as we saw last month in the Lac-Mégantic explosion), or by a different pipeline through Canada.

That’s what the State Department found in March, and that’s what IHS CERA confirmed this week. The State Department’s final report is expected to be released sometime in the next couple of months, and all signs point to its reaffirming what common sense bears out: Keystone won’t affect emissions. Once that happens, the President will have no more reasons to delay the permitting of the project. The logic behind the decision is crystal clear, but don’t expect Obama’s green base to say so.

[Pipeline image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Corlyss

    Doesn’t matter. Obama won’t approve it.

  • bigfire

    It will hit the bottom line of Warren Buffett’s rail line, thus it won’t get approve.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    What a waste of time and money, I despise Obama.

  • Kate

    Well, of course it won’t increase any emissions HERE. All of this “oil” will be refined here and shipped overseas. That is where the emissions will occur. Of course the emissions will get here eventually on the air currents but the emissions will be called something else!

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