ACTION ALERT: Last Chance to Stop Tar Sands Pipeline, Today -- Earth Day Deadline
April 22, 2013
Elijah Zarlin / Credo Action & James Hansen / The New York Times & Brad Johnson / Grist
Monday -- Earth Day -- is the final day to speak out as part of the Obama administration's decision making process on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline which would mean "game over for the climate." Here's why the public's voice needs to be heard: The State Department's "don't worry" environmental impact statement for the proposed Keystone XL tarsands pipeline, was not written by government officials. It was written by a private company in the pay of the pipeline's owner.
ACTION ALERT: Deadline Earth Day, Monday:
The Final Comment Period on the Keystone XL Pipeline
Elijah Zarlin / Credo Action
(April 21, 2013) -- Monday, April 22 -- Earth Day -- is the last chance to submit a comment opposing the Keystone XL pipeline before the President makes his decision later this year. Submit a comment now to deliver 200,000 comments from CREDO Activists, as part of the effort to send 1 million comments against Keystone XL.
Monday is the final day to speak out as part of the Obama administration's decision making process on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline which would mean "game over for the climate."
President Obama needs to hear our strong public opposition. If you haven't already, please submit a comment now.
At the final public hearing in Grand Island, Nebraska this week, hundreds of people braved heavy snow and wind to oppose Keystone XL. Here's how the New York Times described it: (1)
The hearing, conducted by the State Department, drew hours of emotional testimony, mostly from opponents of Keystone XL, who whooped and applauded when anyone from their ranks spoke, and solemnly hoisted black scarves that read "Pipeline Fighter" during comments by the project's supporters.... For every voice of support there were at least a dozen against. And there was a palpable sense among opponents that this represented one of their final chances to have the State Department's ear.
After the massive tar sands spill in Mayflower, Arkansas it's no surprise that Nebraskans were out in force to keep the same thing from happening to them. But Keystone XL affects all of us -- from the risks to our land and water, to the catastrophic damage it would do to our fight against climate change.
The State Department's latest sham environmental review of Keystone XL2 -- actually written by contractors paid by the pipeline developer (3,4) -- ignores the prospect of guaranteed toxic spills and ignores the fact that Keystone XL will be responsible for an astonishing 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year, comparable to the tailpipe emissions from more than 37.7 million cars or 51 coal-fired power plants.(5) Dealing a devastating blow in our fight against climate change.
The pipeline is all risk and no reward. There is simply no reason for President Obama to approve it.
The primary purpose of this pipeline is to export tar sands oil overseas. It does nothing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and will actually increase the price of gasoline in the US. And in exchange for allowing a foreign oil company to use our nation as it's oil spill pad, this pipeline will produce only 35 permanent jobs.
President Obama has made clear that he is paying close attention to public opinion on KXL.
Thanks for fighting Keystone XL.
Elijah Zarlin is the Campaign Manager for CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. "Keystone Pipeline Foes Vent in Nebraska," New York Times, 4/19/13
2. "'State Department' Keystone XL Report Actually Written By TransCanada Contractor ," Grist, 3/6/13
3. "Critical Part of Keystone Report Done by Firms with Deep Oil Industry Ties," Inside Climate, 3/6/13
4. "Cooking the Books: The True Climate Impact of Keystone XL" Oil Change International
5. "Keystone: All risk, no reward," Media Matters
Game Over for the Climate
James Hansen / The New York Times
WASHINGTON, DC (May 9, 2012) -- Global warming isn't a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves "regardless of what we do."
If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.
Canada's tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now.
That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet's species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.
That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding.
Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California's Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.
If this sounds apocalyptic, it is. This is why we need to reduce emissions dramatically. President Obama has the power not only to deny tar sands oil additional access to Gulf Coast refining, which Canada desires in part for export markets, but also to encourage economic incentives to leave tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground.
The global warming signal is now louder than the noise of random weather, as I predicted would happen by now in the journal Science in 1981. Extremely hot summers have increased noticeably. We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events -- they were caused by human-induced climate change.
We have known since the 1800s that carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere. The right amount keeps the climate conducive to human life. But add too much, as we are doing now, and temperatures will inevitably rise too high. This is not the result of natural variability, as some argue. The earth is currently in the part of its long-term orbit cycle where temperatures would normally be cooling. But they are rising -- and it's because we are forcing them higher with fossil fuel emissions.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 280 parts per million to 393 p.p.m. over the last 150 years. The tar sands contain enough carbon -- 240 gigatons -- to add 120 p.p.m. Tar shale, a close cousin of tar sands found mainly in the United States, contains at least an additional 300 gigatons of carbon.
If we turn to these dirtiest of fuels, instead of finding ways to phase out our addiction to fossil fuels, there is no hope of keeping carbon concentrations below 500 p.p.m. -- a level that would, as earth's history shows, leave our children a climate system that is out of their control.
We need to start reducing emissions significantly, not create new ways to increase them. We should impose a gradually rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies, then distribute 100 percent of the collections to all Americans on a per-capita basis every month. The government would not get a penny. This market-based approach would stimulate innovation, jobs and economic growth, avoid enlarging government or having it pick winners or losers.
Most Americans, except the heaviest energy users, would get more back than they paid in increased prices. Not only that, the reduction in oil use resulting from the carbon price would be nearly six times as great as the oil supply from the proposed pipeline from Canada, rendering the pipeline superfluous, according to economic models driven by a slowly rising carbon price.
But instead of placing a rising fee on carbon emissions to make fossil fuels pay their true costs, leveling the energy playing field, the world's governments are forcing the public to subsidize fossil fuels with hundreds of billions of dollars per year. This encourages a frantic stampede to extract every fossil fuel through mountaintop removal, longwall mining, hydraulic fracturing, tar sands and tar shale extraction, and deep ocean and Arctic drilling.
President Obama speaks of a "planet in peril," but he does not provide the leadership needed to change the world's course. Our leaders must speak candidly to the public -- which yearns for open, honest discussion -- explaining that our continued technological leadership and economic wellbeing demand a reasoned change of our energy course. History has shown that the American public can rise to the challenge, but leadership is essential.
The science of the situation is clear -- it's time for the politics to follow. This is a plan that can unify conservatives and liberals, environmentalists and business. Every major national science academy in the world has reported that global warming is real, caused mostly by humans, and requires urgent action. The cost of acting goes far higher the longer we wait -- we can't wait any longer to avoid the worst and be judged immoral by coming generations.
James Hansen directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is the author of "Storms of My Grandchildren."
'State Department' Keystone XL Report Actually Written By TransCanada Contractor
Brad Johnson / Grist guest contributor
(March 6, 2013) -- Master Services Agreement between TransCanada and Environmental Resources Management to write Keystone XL Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
The State Department's "don't worry" environmental impact statement for the proposed Keystone XL tarsands pipeline, released late Friday afternoon, was written not by government officials but by a private company in the pay of the pipeline's owner. The "sustainability consultancy" Environmental Resources Management (ERM) was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanada to write the statement, which is now an official government document.
The statement estimates, and then dismisses, the pipeline's massive carbon footprint and other environmental impacts, because, it asserts, the mining and burning of the tar sands is unstoppable.
The department's contractor-written Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement even says the pipeline will be safe from the climate impacts to which it will contribute.
The documents from the ERM-TransCanada agreement are on the State Department's website, but payment amounts and other clients and past work of ERM are redacted. In the contract documents, ERM partner Steven J. Koster certifies that his company has no conflicts of interest.
He also certifies that ERM has no business relationship with TransCanada or "any business entity that could be affected in any way by the proposed work" (notwithstanding the impact statement contract itself).
In a cover letter, Koster promises State Department NEPA Coordinator Genevieve Walker that ERM understands "the need for an efficient and expedited process to meet the demands of the desired project schedule."
An investigation by Inside Climate News finds that ERM's report draws from work done by other oil industry contractors, Ensys Energy and ICF International.
Because the impact statement was written by a TransCanada contractor, not by State Department officials, it should come as no surprise that it presents a worldview of a global economy inevitably dependent on dirty fossil fuels that is entirely at odds with the expressed views of Secretary of State John Kerry.
As Secretary of State John Kerry said six years ago, "we're on an urgent clock" to confront fossil-fueled climate change, which he compared to the threat of nuclear weaponry as a "man-made" and "uncontrolled" weapon with "the ability to change life as we know it on this Earth."
Kerry's recognition of the scientific necessity to keep global concentrations of carbon dioxide below 450 ppm should preclude the possibility of building a pipeline designed to pump 7 gigatons of carbon dioxide worth of tar sands crude over decades.
According to TransCanada's paid report, "production of WCSB and Bakken crude oil will proceed with or without the proposed Project."
As Kerry said last month, "We need to find the courage to leave a far different legacy."
Brad Johnson is the campaign manager of Forecast the Facts. He was previously the editor for ThinkProgress Green. Brad holds a bachelor's degree in math and physics from Amherst College and master's degree in geosciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.