Kerry Says ‘The Science Is Screaming At All Of Us And Demands Action’. Will He Forsake The Climate For 35 Jobs?

Does John Kerry think this is sustainable?

Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a strong Earth Day message on climate change, calling it a “clear and present danger.”

He also repeated the line from his powerful March remarks on climate change that “the science is screaming” at us to act. But that raises the question — are Kerry and his boss really listening?

The White House started sending signals last month “the president is inclined to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.” And, for what it’s worth, David Gordon, State’s director of policy planning when Condoleezza Rice was Secretary, just told a Canadian newspaper “I would say the chances are about four-to-one” Obama approves the tar sands pipeline.

Perhaps so, but then how empty would Kerry’s Earth Day message be:

This year’s Earth Day theme, the Faces of Climate Change, puts a special focus on the very real impact climate change has on people everywhere, and demonstrates just how clearly connected we all are. What one country does impacts the livelihoods of people elsewhere – and what we all do to address climate change now will largely determine the kind of planet we leave for our children and generations to come. As was clear in President Obama’s second inaugural address and in his State of the Union message, the United States is committed to meeting this challenge head on…. Dealing responsibly with the clear and present danger of climate change was a focus of my recent trip to China, and it is a challenge I will be engaging to meet everywhere I travel….

The science is screaming at all of us and demands action. From the far reaches of Antarctica’s Ross Sea to tropical wetlands in Southeast Asia, we have a responsibility to safeguard and sustainably manage our planet’s natural resources, and the United States remains firm in its commitment to addressing global environmental challenges.

One can’t, of course, “sustainably manage” the tar sands.

A must-see 2012 video explains how tar sands development threatens the carbon-rich boreal forests and their vital ecosystems. A 2012 study found that existing industry plans for exploiting the tar sands will destroy over 29,500 hectares (65%) of local carbon-rich peatland (aka bogs, moors, mires, and swamp forests) — which in turn will release the equivalent of up 173 million metric tons of CO2.

The bottom line is that Keystone is a gateway to a huge pool of carbon-intensive fuel most of which must be left in the ground — along with most of the world’s coal and unconventional oil and gas – if humanity is to avoid multiple devastating impacts that may be beyond adaptation.

Is Kerry going to accelerate the ruination of the whole world’s climate in return for not bloody much.  To paraphrase Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons:

It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but for 35 permanent jobs!

The Center for American Progress has filed its own comments on the Keystone XL Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement explaining why the pipeline is not “in the national interest”:

Dear Secretary Kerry:

We urge you to reject the resubmitted permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. It is not in the national interest of the United States because the pipeline would facilitate a dramatic increase in the production of high carbon polluting tar sands oil, but will only create very few U.S. jobs. And much of the oil transported to the Gulf Coast will be exported to other nations. The United States must not facilitate the expansion of a huge source of carbon pollution that would exacerbate climate change. The Keystone XL pipeline is all risk and no reward.

The draft Supplement Environmental Impact Statement SEIS includes the following information that reinforces that the pipeline is not in the national interest:

  • Production of tar sands oil emits more carbon pollution than conventional oil, which is confirmed by independent analysis by both the Congressional Research Service and Environmental Protection Agency;
  • Much of the oil transported via Keystone XL to refineries in the Gulf Coast will be refined into fuel and exported to other nations, thereby adding little to U.S. energy security.
  • Only 35 permanent jobs would result from the pipeline.

The primary assumption in the draft SEIS is that oil companies will produce the same amount of tar sands oil in Alberta regardless of whether Keystone is built because this oil could ship by railroad if need be. An investigation into this claim by Reuters found that “oil-by-train may not be a substitute for Keystone pipeline.” It determined that the SEIS assertion that rail will move 200,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day to the Gulf Coast in 2013 ignores the Energy Information Administration’s determination that rail moved no more than 30,000 barrels per day during any time in the past year. The SEIS assumption that rail can replace the pipeline, and would generate the same level of production as with the pipeline is wrong. In other words, the dramatic increase in tar sands oil production and carbon pollution is not possible without the Keystone pipeline.

Thank you for your efforts to make action on climate change a top foreign policy priority, particularly with China – the world’s largest emitter. The new U.S.-China joint statement on climate change enhances the likelihood of significant carbon pollution reductions by both nations. Your tireless efforts in the Senate to achieve domestic pollution reductions were remarkable. Denial of the Keystone XL pipeline permit would be entirely consistent with these decades of leadership on climate change.

Attached to this letter are more detailed comments on the Keystone XL pipeline draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the record. Given the SEIS’s faulty assumption that building the pipeline would make no difference in carbon pollution levels, we believe that denial of the permit is entirely appropriate. Thank you.

Daniel J. Weiss
Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy

The full version with more detailed comments is here.

26 Responses to Kerry Says ‘The Science Is Screaming At All Of Us And Demands Action’. Will He Forsake The Climate For 35 Jobs?

  1. Ed Leaver says:

    Well to be fair, how can the U.S. in good conscience deny the Canadians their tar sands export market without magnanimously reciprocating by banning our own vital coal exports as well? Fail-Safe, you know…

  2. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Never did I think I would say this but it looks like Mulga is right, the kleptocracy really does hate mankind.

  3. David Smith says:

    On the issue of jobs; Don’t all other means of transporting oil (truck, train, ship)require more labor and therefore create more jobs than would be created with pipelines. Isn’t this one of the advantages of pipelines. Therefore – How many jobs will not be created (be lost) if the pipeline is approved.

  4. Paul Klinkman says:

    Those little foam earplugs are cheap!

    So is the United States Secretary of State.

  5. glen says:

    At least one agency is raising questions;

    Also’s screening of the movie, “Do The Math’ premiered at night;

  6. Lore says:

    The Secretary of State is at the behest of the President. In this case throwing flowers before the sows.

  7. There are lots of ways to skin the jobs cat that don’t involve the tar sands or any other fossil fuel at all.

  8. BobbyL says:

    I would be concerned that if Kerry and Obama reject the pipeline that Congress will try to approve it. A resolution supporting the pipeline got 62 votes in the Senate so we would need to get t least a few senators to shift their position to stop the pipeline. Does Congress have the authority to approve it? According to a Washington Post article “Neither side knows exactly, but depending on the legislative language, Congress could very well pull it off.”

  9. Jack Burton says:

    The way I understand it, Canada has a number of planned outlets for Tar Sands Oil. Export seems vital to the Tar Sands profitability. I hear of a Canadian pipeline all the way across the Rocky mountains to the BC coast.
    Canada has staked an awful lot on Tar Sands, the government is fully behind massive future development.
    I honestly think we will not put a dent in Tar Sands by killing the XL. Or am I mistaken?

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The Bosses will not be thwarted when they smell loot. In the unlikely event that the Hope Peddler grew a pair, the Congress (of the B-grade)would override him, and the ‘Justices’ of the Supreme Court would OK it, to be sure. Too much protest, and ‘Green terrorists’ will be intercepted, just in the nick of time, by the ever-vigilant forces of ‘Lora Norder’ (a well-known figure in Australian politics)and a crackdown on dissent would ensue.

  11. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Is Lora still alive? Living in Qld no doubt. Haven’t heard from her in a while because of all the noise about money, ME

  12. “I hear of a Canadian pipeline all the way across the Rocky mountains to the BC coast.” This would obviously be much, much more expensive than a pipeline south across flat plains. Tar sands oil is inherently costly; it’s not self-evident that a Rockies pipeline would be economic.

  13. BillD says:

    Opposition to the tar sand and a pipeline is much stronger in BC Canada than in the US. Efforts to make a pipeline and port in BC would lead to a fight that would make Canadians and non-Canadians proud.

  14. Bill D. says:

    Unfortunately, we still think this is about politics and propaganda instead of human survival. Apparently, the polls still favor a go-slow approach:

    If global warming isn’t going to affect me, why should I be concerned about what happens to my children and grandchildren?? This selfish rationale is dominant in America today.

    But consideration for future generations is clearly specified in the Preamble to our US Constitution: “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Our Founding Fathers would be mortified if they could see how Americans today are so wantonly forsaking their own political heritage.

    The only way that anything meaningful will be done on climate change is if we stop focusing strictly on short time horizons and start taking a longer-term view. Kerry, Obama and Company might sound determined when they speak about the climate crisis, but they never sail against the prevailing political winds.

  15. prokaryotes says:

    “This selfish rationale is dominant in America today.”

    It’s the same everywhere, just in Murica you have more power, i.e. more resources are burned every day.

    As long we have roads full of fossil fuel burning vehicles we will get to the worst case scenarios eventually.

  16. lizardo says:

    I had the same initial response, that rail would create more jobs, but State’s wacky SEIS somehow came up with only about double, something like 69 permanent jobs! So in my comments I concentrated on: if rail is to be considered a feasible option, also compare how much less dilbit spilled in a large rail derailment than a large pipeline rupture.

  17. lizardo says:

    Thanks for the link to the comments from CAP. I was stunned to read that some of the Gulf Coast refineries are in a Free Trade Zone and don’t have to pay US taxes on product they refine and export.

    Also thanks BobbyL to the link to the WaPo article about whether Congress can over-ride President to approve KXL.

    True it would go to court, but reading that article I’d put money on Congress winning that argument.

    That’s where we need to focus WAY more attention.

    For an indication of who voted yea/nay in Senate on March 22:

  18. Superman1 says:

    “The Science Is Screaming At All Of Us”. In addition, the politicians and powers-that-be are screaming at all of us through their actions that they will do nothing to save the biosphere, but we don’t want to listen. And, seven billion people on this planet are screaming at all of us that they are not willing to make the sacrifices required to save the biosphere, but we don’t want to listen.

  19. A niggle on the 35 permanent jobs: we Greens often tout temporary jobs in solar and wind installation. The number of permanent jobs in maintenance is also small, though more than 35. It’s just the capital-intensive nature of the energy business.

  20. paul magnus says:

    You are mistaken.

    We are British Colombia and the pipeline will not pass.

  21. paul magnus says:

    Or work efficiently. We are getting more and more big landslide and scouring of river basins due to changing precipitation patterns because of climate change.

    I suspect the construction and maintenance of the NGP would be very costly in economic and enviromental terms.

  22. Todd Flach says:

    Use of refined crude oil products is falling in every country except China and perhaps Brazil. Tar sands see Keystone as their last chance for long-term survival and frankly, so do the refiners in east Texas. Both will witness how a variety fuel-saving technologies will make them redundant in the next 10-15 years. This is about how long it took for digital photography to wipe out analogue film. This will happen no matter if Keystone gets built or not.

  23. dick smith says:

    The pipeline is intended to carry a carbon fuel. The test of whether it should be built has nothing to do with jobs. It has to do with whether the product can be safely transported and safely used. Since it fails both those tests for building a pipeline, the question about jobs is not relevant.

  24. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    She lives in an odd symbiotic, possibly Sapphic, relationship with her putative enemy, (but in reality ‘co-dependant’), Anna Key. I often drop in for a quiet natter and cup of chai.

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Sounds more like M.A.D (Mutually Assured Destruction) to me.

  26. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Concern for future generations, from those running about and biting our ankles now, to their children’s children’s children etc, is ‘basic human decency’ a concept that Rightwing pseudo-humans simply cannot comprehend.