A new report out of the Stockholm Environment Institute suggests that the Keystone XL pipeline could end up producing four times the emissions than a U.S. State Department report found back in January. The discrepancy is, according to the researchers, due to the global price of oil: the pipeline would bring Canada’s tar sands to America’s Gulf Coast refineries, and these new supplies of crude would, according to the report, lower the price of oil $3 per barrel. That, the scientists note, would encourage more consumption, and therefore lead to more carbon emissions. The AP reports:
The researchers estimate that the proposed pipeline, which would carry oil from tar sands in western Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, would increase world greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 121 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.The department said this year that at most, the pipeline would increase world carbon dioxide emissions by 30 million tons.
First, we should put these numbers in proper perspective. Last year, the world emitted some 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide. That means, even going by the worst estimates from this new report, Keystone would be responsible for less than two fifths of a percent of global emissions. But don’t tell that to the greens, who have made the pipeline their marquee issue in recent years.While we’re on the subject of things environmentalists won’t like to hear, consider this: All of that oil up there in Alberta is, Keystone or not, going to find its way to market somehow. That crude is worth a lot of money, and producers are going to figure out a way to capitalize on it. Whether that’s through the Keystone pipeline and south to refineries already set up to handle this heavy crude (the option that makes the most sense), the western route to Canada’s Pacific coast, an eastern trek to its Atlantic coast, or just by rail and truck, that oil is not going to stay put in the ground.We’re going to consume this crude, so we might as well do so in the safest, sanest way possible.