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Obama vetos Keystone pipeline

Written By: - Date published: 10:42 am, February 26th, 2015 - 8 comments
Categories: climate change, global warming, us politics - Tags: , , , ,

The Keystone pipeline would have been bad news for the environment:

Keystone Pipeline Will Impact Climate Change, State Department Reports

…So the State Department has dug more deeply into the issue of greenhouse gases (pdf) as well and announced today that the Keystone XL pipeline would increase greenhouse gas emissions. Oil from Alberta’s tar sands is one of the most polluting kinds of oil, the report notes, thanks to the energy cost of producing it in the first place as well as the pet coke and other byproducts that end up getting burned as well. The State Department also noted that just running the pipeline for a year once built would result in the same greenhouse gas pollution as roughly 300,000 cars over the same time span, and that the oil carried by the pipeline could add as much as 27 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere each year, most of that from its ultimate use as fuel.

As one of the scientists opposing the pipeline put it:

Even the very conservative estimate of my climate scientist colleague Andrew Weaver, which by some gentle critiques leaves out extra fossil fuel emissions resulting from tar sands extraction, is dire: extracting and burning all of the Keystone-targeted oil would likely result in approximately 0.4C of additional warming. Add that to the observed 1C warming and the additional 0.5C committed warming, and we’ve only got about 0.1 degrees Celsius to spare before we hit that dangerous limit.

Indeed, given the underlying uncertainties, those estimates could well lock in 2C warming – if not more. This is why my colleague James Hansen has characterized approval of the pipeline as tantamount to “game over for the climate”.

Yesterday Obama vetoed the project:

Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Bill, The Third Veto Of His Presidency

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama formally vetoed legislation authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on Tuesday, the latest development in what has become an ongoing standoff between him and congressional Republicans over approval of the controversial pipeline.

Even with the bill vetoed, Keystone is expected to be a recurring theme for Republican leadership. There are not enough votes to override the veto at this point, however.

Environmental groups, which have been urging the president to veto the bill and reject the pipeline permit altogether, celebrated the veto. “This misguided Keystone XL bill, pushed by the fossil fuel industry, has met its just and expected doom,” Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “The president got it exactly right by vetoing it.”

Too little, too late, but a victory the environment (and for sanity) none the less. Bravo Obama!

8 comments on “Obama vetos Keystone pipeline”

  1. Ad 1

    Can anyone comment on how the tarsands extractor companies can continue at this barrel price?

    • Colonial Rawshark 1.1

      I am guessing – lines of credit, previous injections of shareholder equity (which they are burning through), and hedge contracts which allow them to enjoy previous higher pricing (if only for a while longer).

    • GregJ 1.2

      AD check this article from November Falling Oil Price “Changing Whole Dynamic” for Tar Sands.

      Simply put if the current level of oil prices are sustained for the next few years then a lot of these projects are going to run out of credit and be abandoned.

      • Ad 1.2.1

        If the Saudis think Iran will tap out before the US/Canadian oil sand miners, they don’t know the Persians very well.

        • GregJ 1.2.1.1

          The Venezuelans and Iranians want OPEC to cut production to boost prices (as demand has fallen and looks to continue to fall). OPEC’s agreed production levels can’t be changed though except with unanimous agreement of members of the Cartel and the Saudis aren’t budging on that position (yet).

          The lower prices has the advantage for the Saudis of screwing the Russians as well as the Iranians. The Saudis are still really pissed out the Russians over Syria – inconveniencing Iran is a side benefit and it also puts a bit of a crib in Qatar’s ambitions as well (there is quite a bit of tension in the Gulf between Qatar and the other GCC countries).

          How long the Saudis can ride out the lower prices remains to be seen however. They have got a shitload of money though.

  2. Sable 2

    Just for once Obama does something good. Now if he would cancel the TPP deals, stop drone strikes and leave the Russians alone we might have a planet worth living on.

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