Keystone Pipeline Will Create Only 35 Permanent Jobs, Emit 51 Coal Plants’ Worth Of Carbon

On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that he wasn’t touching the Keystone pipeline decision with a ten-foot pole:

“I am staying as far away from that as I can now so that when the appropriate time comes to me, I am not getting information from any place I shouldn’t be, and I am not getting engaged in the debate at a time that I shouldn’t be,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

Right now, Kerry has the State Department’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, but if that is all he information he relies on, he won’t get the full picture. While he will see that the project will only bring 35 permanent jobs, which is true, he would also see almost no discussion of the pipeline’s impact on the climate. (Oddly, he will be able to read an extended discussion of climate change’s projected impacts on the construction and maintenance of the proposed pipeline.)

So where is a Secretary of State sincerely concerned about climate change to go to find the climate consequences of approving the Keystone XL pipeline? He could peruse a new report out yesterday from Oil Change International called: “Cooking the Books: How The State Department Analysis Ignores The True Climate Impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline.”

The report’s recommendation:

In a world constrained by the realities of climate change, the proper measure of any project’s climate impact should not be based on the assumptions inherent in a business as usual scenario that guarantees climate disaster. Instead, the State Department should base these critical decisions on whether the project makes sense in a world that is actually seeking to minimize the real dangers of climate change. On this basis, we recommend that decision-makers consider the total amount of carbon that will be released by the project into the atmosphere.

How do they back that up?

  • Using industry analysis of carbon emissions from current tar sands production, the report says the pipeline will carry and emit 181 million metric tons of CO2 every year. That’s more than 37.7 million cars or 51 coal plants.
  • Both the IEA and the World Bank have said that if we want to avoid the catastrophic implications of warming the planet by more than 2 degrees C, we cannot burn any more than one-third of the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves by 2050.
  • U.S. oil demand has fallen by 2.25 million barrels per day, but if we want to cut emissions to hold global temperature below 2 degrees C, there are very few scenarios that include a Keystone pipeline pumping 3.3 million barrels or tar sands oil per day.
  • Petcoke, which is a byproduct of the tar sands refining process, is exported for use as a coal substitute. Since petcoke is cheaper than coal, this encourages more coal burning, and therefore more carbon emissions. The State Department’s EIS does not acknowledge this.
  • The pipeline’s pump stations will emit 4.4 million metric tons of CO2 each year, after 240,000 metric tons during the construction phase. This is like adding an extra U.S. coal plant. This pipeline, remember, will pump 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil every day.
  • Tar sands pollute more than conventional oil — 27 million more metric tons of CO2 according to the EPA. This would be the same as 7 coal plants. Tar sands are so carbon intensive because of the way it burns, and how much energy is required to extract it. The State Department acknowledged that this will cause 17 percent more carbon emissions than regular oil.

Won’t the tar sands be extracted whether the pipeline is approved or rejected? Not so:

There are many compelling arguments against the fatalistic assertion that the tar sands will be fully exploited regardless of the Keystone XL pipeline. Other proposed pipelines also face substantial opposition in Canada and other regions of the United States. Further, increased costs associated with alternatives such as rail make it clear that the Keystone XL pipeline is far and away the industry’s first choice, and industry experts have been the first to admit this.

The State Department EIS dismisses out of hand the implications of burning the oil we’re projected to burn, saying it is business as usual. But this business is leading us to a very unusual climate future. The idea of approving the Keystone pipeline becomes more impossible as the facts become clearer. We can only hope that Secretary Kerry will stay engaged in the real debate and make the right choice for a livable climate.

27 Responses to Keystone Pipeline Will Create Only 35 Permanent Jobs, Emit 51 Coal Plants’ Worth Of Carbon

  1. Paul Klinkman says:

    The former VVAW activist has become a climate ostrich now?

  2. David B. Benson says:

    IEA: World has stalled on clean energy
    The world’s governments are failing on almost every level to clean up their energy systems and must intervene to support nuclear power, said the IEA, noting that only renewables and electric vehicles are ‘on track’.

    Keystone? Tombstone.

  3. Raul M. says:

    There is a projection of a twenty fold increase of severe weather events jitney just as it is co2 emissions. Anyway the Presidential Library isn’t projected to be large enough for everybody to feel safe in it’s storm shelter. No I don’t know how all the gov.officials may feel safe with free flowing fossil fuels. Possibly he will feel better about it if he has a state dept. library approved for his term of office that has a nice storm shelter. I don’t know how such could be honorable though.

  4. D. R. Tucker says:

    The city of Lancaster, in sunny Southern California, has vowed to become the solar capitol of the world and is already breaking new ground. We’ll talk to Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate with Environment California, about the exciting news. Next, a new film being released in conjunction with Earth Day. “Do The Math” producer, Jared Smith joins us with a sneak preview of the effort from And Earth Day is this Monday, Paul Welles tells us how one of America’s greenest cities will be celebrating from San Francisco!

    Read more:
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

  5. Bill Wilson says:

    I hope the rejection of the American will by the Seante yesterday is a wake up call for those thinking the government will automatically look at the harms from Keystone and reject it. Considering the massive lobbying and commercials equating the pipe as just another conventional pipe has many if not most Americans fooled and thus the temptation of our already corrupt government to go along with the bribes of tar sands. I have sent many requests to others asking about which standards the pipe has been tested and designed to that will insure safe and follow up testing to carry this toxic brew. The continued ignoring of this and many other key issues tells me our Senate is completed bouhten off but for a few and with the same key lobby people and tactics for the guns we have to face the realities of our democracy being destroyed by the money interests of guns and carbon.

  6. As Obama keeps his focus elsewhere, Kerry is sending the clear message that he will approve anything that his staff sends to him. Someone used the phrase “let the professionals do their work.” However, when the professionals they hire work for fossil fuel industry, the results are pre-determined.

    Just as Mike Bloomberg and Gabby Giffords are saying that we need to make politicians pay for their votes against any gun legislation, we need to make politicians pay for their non-actions that could have changed the trajectory of climate change. That means withholding support for Democrats just as we withhold support for Republicans. Either vote these ostriches out during the primary or vote Green if you can’t.

  7. Raul M. says:

    Maybe the politicians who actually vote for clean energy could have a library structure with the relevant study records in the library storm shelter. Certainly truth of how the world works should have a better shelter than the false and distorted untruth.

  8. Mark Haag says:

    A thought experiment:

    20 million people participated in the first Earth Day. What would happen If 20 million people hit the streets this summer to demonstrate against keystone and for a clean energy policy?

    Lets make it happen.

  9. prokaryotes says:

    If people do not stop using gasoline powered cars my guess is they wouldn’t hi the streets. It’s up to the government to make the right decisions to safeguard our homes, but this process is broken.

  10. Red says:

    Carrying 830,000 barrels of oil a day, a rupture in which oil spills for only one hour could spill 34,583 barrels, or 1.45 million gallons of oil. Is this really a good idea, considering the oil industry’s track record on spills?

  11. Jackie says:

    NRA won and now the Keystone pipeline is next to call in their favor that they paid lawmakers for just like the NRA. Well look for more oil spills and damage to the heartland and again Obama will get blamed. Today the GOP blamed Obama for the gun law vote failing and wow people believed every word. Even the Foreign Press is enjoying the way Americans can be made fools of so easy. We just saw an oil spill in a town and the media keeps it out of the news and State officials are paid to follow the script the oil company writes.

  12. Anonymous Bosch says:

    Wow – turns out that “jobs, jobs, jobs” was actually an effort to count them all.

    Who knew?

  13. lance peeples says:

    Make your comments known to the State Dept. here:

  14. Ed McDonnell says:

    The 2010 Tar Sands oil spill in Michigan. Shows what could happen. They had no idea how to clean up. It sunk to the bottom. Oil booms were worthless. So now were going have a pipeline over Ogalala Aquifer. Where 90% of the croplands get water.

  15. Tony says:

    But it’s essential we build this ticking timebomb, right?

  16. Trevor says:

    I wonder how many jobs would be permanantly added if we were to set up Solar and/or wind farms along the proposed path of the pipeline?

    How much energy would be produced if we were to set up Solar and/or wind farms along the proposed path of the pipeline?

  17. Dennis says:

    We also get to keep the toxic waste from the pre refining refining since most of that abrasive oil will be exported.

  18. irrefudiate says:

    Look on the bright side. It’s possible that forces, already in motion, will make the pipeline irrelevant to the big picture. Nature may have already found the solution. We’re just not aware of it yet.

  19. Asphyxium says:

    I think we’re screwed when it comes to climate change. All I can say is the Republicans better be out of power permanently when that happens.

  20. Bob h says:

    No background checks, no pipeline. Fair trade.

  21. iyoumeweus says:

    Pipelines are organized in accordance with the 1986 Tax Reform Act as Master Limited Partnerships. They do not pay Federal Corporate Taxes since the Act exempts enterprises organized as MLP’s. Some of the investors may pay taxes on their dividends. Pipelines are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has a history of allowing pipeline firms to collect taxes and pocket them as profit. The Commission and its employees are a revolving door between regulator/regulatee.
    The public needs to know the following:
    Who are the partners and what is their role and contribution to the firm? Who is responsible for the pipeline’s operation and oversight of maintenance, inspections and public safety?
    The public also has the right to know how all 200 pipeline firms are organized, their profits, taxing programs, investor dividends whether from profits and/or new investors, and there overall safety record.
    An Executive and Legislative investigation of all these matters should be undertaken before any approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline is given.

  22. gtb says:

    For people wanting to spread the word, here is a useful, brief summary of why tar sands oil is even worse for the climate than conventional oil.

  23. vacman says:

    I love your concept of tombstone instead of keystone. If you don’t mind I’m gonna use it on my show. Watch at the 6 minute mark and learn how to do the BATTA-BING-B!TCH-SLAP!!

  24. Jon Dannehy says:

    If this pipe line goes through, I am done with both major parties. I came very close to voting for Jill Stein last time,, this is all it would take to tip the scales for me.

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    And out of the country. Perhaps they could seek asylum in Turgidstan or some other petro-state-at least until the locals grow restless.

  26. Global Green Hu says:

    Barrel for barrel, tar sands oil is even worse for the climate than conventional oil.