Memo To Obama: Canada Can’t Reduce The Climate Impacts of Keystone Pipeline With Rip-Offsets

I think President Obama’s big climate speech last week makes it less likely he will approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Canada. The National Journal’s Amy Harder argues the reverse in a piece Monday, “The president set the stage for moving forward with the controversial pipeline in his landmark speech on climate change.

Before I give her reasons and mine — and why I think her specific scenario for approval is unlikely — let me deal with one potentially worrisome part of her piece:

“Our national interest will only be served if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution,” Obama said forcefully, prompting loud cheers from the audience of several hundred climate-minded people. “The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”

Environmentalists cheered Obama’s new “test” for the pipeline. They maintain that there isn’t a way Obama could approve the project since its impact will surely “significantly exacerbate” climate change. People close to the White House read it differently.

I think it was a clear signal to the Canadians to come to the table and put a good-faith program out there that could provide the kind of net reductions beyond anyone’s doubt that would allow Obama to proceed,” said a source close to the Obama administration who would speak on the condition of anonymity only.

There are no “net reductions beyond anyone’s doubt” that could offset the multiple climate impacts from building the pipeline:

The only thing beyond any doubt is that KXL would be far more destructive to the climate than the State Department has let on, a key reason why both the EPA and major environmental groups have asked State to redo its environmental impact statement.

As someone who written extensively about rip-offsets, there simply are no plausible set of actions that Canada could undertake to offset the impact of the tar sands.

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.

Yes, while I did not like the massive amount of offsets in the Waxman-Markey climate bill, I still supported that bill. But that’s because I expected the price of carbon to be lower than that of most offsets — a view vindicated by the recent drop in U.S. CO2 emissions — and because the offsets would’ve taken place under a U.S. carbon cap.

Without a cap, there’s really no way of knowing that a certain offset, like shutting down a coal plant, wouldn’t have been necessitated by whatever cap a nation needs to be part of the global effort to avert catastrophe.

But Canada has no carbon cap. So nothing Canada does to reduce its non-tar-sands emissions can plausibly be called a genuine offset.

Remember that an 80% to 95% reduction by 2050 vs. 1990 levels is the target that the IPCC believes the rich countries (Annex I) should adopt if the goal is to stabilize at 450 ppm CO2-eq or around 2°C (3.6°F) total warming above preindustrial levels. I discussed the science underlying this at length a few years ago. Here’s the key chart from the full Working Group III report (Box 13.7, page 776):

So Canada and the United States need to make very deep reductions in total greenhouse gas emissions within four decades if our aim is, as Obama put it, “sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change.” So Canada can’t offset KXL with domestic reductions it would have to make anyway.

The only offset that could preserve a livable climate would be setting off the tar sands as a permanent no-development zone.

Based on his very strong moral case against climate inaction, Obama appears to understand that. Secretary of State John Kerry certainly does.

I find Amy Harder’s scenario for Keystone approval implausible:

Based on conversations with administration insiders, here’s how I envision the final act of the long-running Keystone drama playing out:

Secretary of State John Kerry, who counts combatting climate change as one of his lifelong passions, will recommend to President Obama that he should not approve the pipeline, which would send 35 million gallons of oil every day over 1,700 miles from Alberta’s carbon-heavy oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. Obama will decide to approve the project, in large part because he will have secured commitments from Canada to do more to reduce its carbon emissions.

Obama will publicly repudiate Kerry, akin to how Obama publicly repudiated Lisa Jackson, his first Environmental Protection Agency administrator, two years ago when she asked the White House to let her move forward on a stronger smog standard. On the Friday before Labor Day 2011, Obama announced that he was delaying the standard because of economic concerns.

It is entirely possible that Obama will approve Keystone — but this scenario seems quite unlikely. If Kerry disapproves Keystone, it will be on climate grounds, and Obama couldn’t repudiate his Secretary of State on that since Kerry is a long-time climate champion. Also, it would cut Kerry off at the knees for any international negotiation. What foreign leader would believe anything Kerry says or promises on climate change once Obama repudiates him on the single most important international climate decision he had to make?

Finally, it’s not Obama who would secure commitments from Canada — it would be his Secretary of State. And, again, there simply are no credible offsets at this point. Carbon capture and storage for tar sands hasn’t even been demonstrated, let alone shown to be practical or permanent at a large scale. Any “commitments” would be close to meaningless, the diplomatic version of “the check is in the mail.”

Harder writes:

To the surprise of everyone outside the White House, Obama mentioned the pipeline in his speech. It was a politically savvy move for three reasons: 1) He called out the elephant in the room and thus avoided both criticism from groups like the Sierra Club and the subsequent media coverage of his omission; 2) He took ownership of the issue, showing everyone on every side of the fight he is personally involved; and 3) He shifted the debate over the pipeline from one of economics to one about the effects on climate change.

I agree with #2 and #3 — which is precisely why I think the speech makes it less likely he will approve Keystone. Obama owns KXL and he’s said the deciding factor is climate, not economics. As a new Scientific American article sums things up, “If built, the Keystone XL pipeline will be a spigot that speeds tar sands production, pushing the planet toward its emissions limit.”

As for #1, well, there wasn’t much media coverage to speak of and if Obama were truly savvy, he would have realized that the speech was incredibly poorly timed to get serious coverage, what with landmark Supreme Court decisions and NSA leakers on the run.

And folks who have been around Washington politics a lot longer than I have think it would be very un-savvy to spend so much time laying out a strong moral case for climate action and then bringing up Keystone IF the president is planning on approving it. He would have been far better off not talking about Keystone at all in that case. As it is now, he will rightfully be called an extreme hypocrite if he ultimately opens the spigot to the dirty tar sands.

There’s no question Obama could approve Keystone, but I believe the smart money has shifted from betting he will to betting he won’t.

51 Responses to Memo To Obama: Canada Can’t Reduce The Climate Impacts of Keystone Pipeline With Rip-Offsets

  1. Mimikatz says:

    I think Obama is inviting Canada to put some more safety measures, offsets, whatever they have, to get the project approved. I think he is drawing the process out like he did before the election. He is going to try to play them until the project sinks of it’s own weight and bad economics. I wouldn’t expect a final decision this year, maybe not even next year. Instead there will be requests for more information, more beefing up of the safety, more guarantees etc and even Kerry’s decision won’t come this year. Time is on Obama’s side, as climate effects will just get worse and worse and more and more obvious, and they know it.

  2. Jeff Huggins says:

    Memo to Hillary

    MEMO to (Hillary) Clinton: Please make clear your position on, and degree of commitment to boldly address, climate change.

    YOU SEE, many Democratic leaders and pundits, including at least some of those at CAP, are already crowning you with the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. The list includes Nancy Pelosi, Chris Matthews, and many, many others. Many are outwardly explicit about their enthusiasm for that fact, while many others convey their views matter-of-factly and without passion, but nevertheless take it for granted that you’ll be The One, to the point that this view shapes their attitudes and actions. It could be said that some are simply “resigned” to what seems a fact, as they see it.

    That said, on the other hand, there are those of us, in growing numbers, who are serious about climate change but who sense that there is a problem with all this. We ask, “Shouldn’t we understand her position with respect to climate change, and the strength of her commitment to address it, and related matters, in concrete and believable terms BEFORE we crown her with the nomination, in effect?” We ask, “Shouldn’t we make sure that the next president we put into office is someone who will actually lead, boldly, to address climate change, someone who our activism can actually complement and help, someone we can work with side by side, rather than someone who our activism must be aimed AT in order to get him/her to hesitantly and inadequately do the things that we imagined he/she would eagerly do when we nominated and elected him?”

    We hope you can understand, and we apologize that we feel we must ask — for the sake of future generations — these pesky and inconvenient questions. But we have the questions; you’ve given us great reason to have them. For example — and I hope you can understand our position — it was your State Department that gave a glowing endorsement of the Keystone XL pipeline. And so forth and so on.

    But in any case, we would (and will) ask the very same questions to all would-be nominees. And we will ask for forthright, clear, and concrete answers, offered willingly rather than provided only grudgingly and vaguely. It is only responsible for us to do so, and it would be irresponsible for us not to.

    So again, we feel we must ask — and get the answers to — these sorts of questions well before we are willing to give you our support to be our next nominee. Frankly, we don’t want to end up being in the same position four years from now that we find ourselves in today. We learn lessons from history, and from our own past actions. As the Who said (roughly speaking), We would prefer not to be fooled again.

    And, it occurs to us that we aren’t posing these questions (about climate change, your positions on it, your commitment to addressing it, and at least roughly, how you would propose to do so) to someone who hasn’t had plenty of time, and access to plenty of expertise, to familiarize yourself with the matter and consider it carefully. You lived in the White House when Al Gore was V.P. You should know the issue well that he has committed his life to addressing. I’m sure you know the name Hansen. I’m sure you know the name McKibben. I’m sure you’ve heard of the IPCC. And, you energetically committed to addressing climate change, at least in words, many times while you were running for the Democratic nomination some years ago. And so forth. So, we don’t think it unfair or unnecessary on our parts to pose these questions to you and to want clear and concrete answers. You, among all people, should have them by now, especially if you want to be the “leader of the free world” and all that sort of thing.

    It’s not that we would mind supporting you for the nomination and for president IF you are the right and best person to lead the country to address climate change, and if you can demonstrate that to us as well as possible, and convince us. Most of us would gladly vote for you (despite some other questions that your political record might present to many!) IF it were the case that you would lead, effectively, the U.S. to do our full part to address climate change and help inspire and lead the rest of the world to do the same. Much hinges on it! But you see, we’d like you to demonstrate that willingness, enthusiasm, forthrightness, and ability beforehand — before we just play dead and hand over the crown to you. Again, we hope you can understand.

    And, we do have great respect for other potential Democratic nominees, other people who might be equally good, or much better, as leaders in general as well as in their commitment to address climate change. This is what we want to find out. We want to make the best possible choice of a person to nominate. Some names include John Kerry, Elizabeth Warren, or Al Gore. It is not as if you are the Only One, and it is certainly not as if you are the one who has already demonstrated the most wisdom, clarity, energy, and willingness to make tough decisions of the sort that will be necessary to address climate change. Indeed, it might benefit everyone — the American people, the climate movement, the Democratic party, the institutions of science, and the entire world, as well as the other would-be nominees and yourself — to see an energetic Democratic primary process (as well as the months leading up to it) that includes all four of these folks, and others, as would-be nominees: you, Kerry, Warren, and Gore. Imagine, all of you discussing climate change as a top priority and detailing how you would propose to approach it? Just imagine that.

    The four of you might even muster the ability to have such debates in adult fashion, treating climate change (and other issues) with the seriousness and honesty they deserve. If you could, you would all greatly exceed (and put to shame) that mess that was called the Republican debates, and at the same time you would do a great service to the world (in terms of the discussion of and focus on climate change) and to the institution of Democracy! Is that too much to ask?

    Hence we send you this Memo, trusting that the Center For American Progress will allow it to be included as a comment on its blog, which is dedicated to climate change as well as to the progressive ideals of transparency, openness, honesty, debate, and dialogue.

    Thank you for your consideration and understanding.

    And have a happy 4th of July tomorrow.

    Jeff Huggins

  3. Jeff Huggins says:

    Oops! An Addition to my ‘Memo to Hillary’, above.

    P.S. — In my rush, I neglected to mention Vice President Biden as someone we deeply respect and appreciate. So, to refine my earlier points, wouldn’t it be great to see Mr. Biden, you, Mr. Kerry, Ms. Warren, and Mr. Gore all discussing climate change, all forthrightly communicating their positions and degrees of commitment, all willing to discuss and debate the matter, and all running for the nomination in a way that would be beneficial to the entire process and, ultimately, to the world at large?

    (Please understand this addition in the context of my earlier message.)

  4. BobbyL says:

    I think if Obama wants to approve it he could always find a way to justify it because the effects of building or not building Keystone are hypothetical conjecture. If one conjectures that if Keystone isn’t built the tar sands would still be fully developed then building Keystone makes no difference. On the other hand, if one conjectures that building Keystone is vital to developing the tar sands then Keystone will result in additional emissions.

  5. I think you’re right. Time is also on Obama (and the planet’s side) because the economics of tar-sand bitumen extraction will get worse with each passing year. The Canadians are boxed in, and their whole enterprise depends on getting out of the box quickly. They are already losing investment money .

    There’s no quick way for them to get the “oil” to market without the pipeline, and the whole fossil-rotten Canadian government could take a dive if they can’t produce the bucks — which is about all they have to offer the the special interests that got them elected in the first place.

    They’re desperate, and it’s actually fun to watch them sweat after having to put up with their arrogance. Eminent domain claims on American farm properties indeed.

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    I hope you and Phillip are right, Mimi, but the dirty oil can make it to Gulf Coast refineries via existing pipelines, which are being beefed up. Enbridge, which has a terrible safety record, would be the contractor. If need be, they can even ship it by rail.

    We’ll know our government is willing to take a stand if they assess fees to reflect tar sands’ additional carbon footprint and environmental damage, including leaks. They would also strike a blow against the Kochs, who own big refineries in Texas that would be receiving the sludge.

    Unfortunately, this is just a dream.

  7. HQT says:

    Let us not overlook the policies of the current Canadian government. They have backed out of Kyoto and have no interest in paying anything but mumbled lip-service to the environment. Canadian carbon reductions, even if negotiated, would most likely fall by the wayside.

  8. Jocelyn Plourde says:

    The pipeline will allow greater extraction and upgrading of bitumen. This will require the burning of more gasoline, diesel fuel and natural gas. And, if more bitumen is extracted, more of it will be burned by the end consumer. In other words, it is impossible for this pipeline not to increase emissions.
    If the pipeline is built, president Obama loses all credibility on climate change. And, it’s “game over” for our climate.

  9. BobbyL says:

    The question is: would the Keystone XL pipeline allow greater extraction of bitumen? Theoretically, the same bitumen could be extracted if other pipelines were built or enhanced, or if bitumen was transported by other means such as railroad. Unless someone has a functioning crystal ball it comes down to opinions. So far the State Department seems to have the opinion that the same bitumen will be extracted whether or not Keystone is built.

  10. Joan Savage says:

    So…is Canada doing any offsets for what’s ALREADY happening at the tar sands?

    While the KXL is undecided is a good time to bring that up, particularly if their available offsets don’t cover the existing impacts, without adding in the gross exacerbation of KXL by increased volume.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I am pretty confident that Obama has no intention, nor ever did, of stopping Keystone. His mesmeric hold over the True Believers is a wonder to behold, after five solid years of evidence that EVERYTHING he said in order to get elected was a gigantic laugh, the precise opposite of what he has done while in power.

  12. Raul M. says:

    Once saw admittance of an emeritus professor that milking a goat was something to be learned, that a hammer and crosstip screw were new experiences.
    That being disingenuous concerning climate became counterproductive to his new endevors. Certainly, progress toward the truth has its disadvantages. It being difficult to inform a little old lady working in the White House that she personally works to spoil the sandbox for her friends great-grandchildren.such is life and when that little old lady comes to the realization of the truth concerning the Eaarth’s energy balance, she may find that the sand box is spoiled and doesn’t even like that at all.

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘Heads I win, tails you lose’, one of the Ruling Caste’s favourite dicta.

  14. M Tucker says:

    Well, if Obama does kill KXL Canada will not take it well. They will consider it a shocking slap in the face. They will say, “So the US can export coal but the US will not help us export tar sand oil!” It will not be a good thing for US / Canada relations.

  15. Which is another reason why we shouldn’t export coal either!

  16. Superman1 says:

    Jeff, An article today showed the Administration’s statement on Power Africa: “Power Africa will build off of “new discoveries of vast reserves of oil and gas”. This is one week after his supposed strong speech on protecting the climate. Why would you place any stock in a politician’s statement about three years out?

  17. Merrelyn Emery says:

    The economics of developing the tar sands have always been dicey. Anything that pushes up costs and reduces the margin is a risk to overall profitability. The big boys in this game are not philanthropists, ME

  18. Superman1 says:

    If we have enough fossil reserves to destroy the biosphere five times over without the Tar Sands, what difference does approval or disapproval of Keystone make?

  19. This is what TransCanada keeps telling us: “La-dee-da, it doesn’t make any difference whether you Yanks approve the pipeline…we can always find another way to move the crud.”

    Bull. If that were the case, they would have dropped the Keystone project years ago. or might not have dreamed it up in the first place. But they are going to great lengths to get it approved and build it. They’ve tried every trick in the political string-pulling book, including having their secretary of state (equiv.) personally lobby the congress.

    Ever wonder why? Maybe it’s because using a patchwork of other pipelines and trains would be far more costly than the proposed keystone pipeline, and the whole enterprise is on shaky grounds.

    Let’s not kid ourselves — it’s bad enough that they are trying to kid us.

  20. Sasparilla says:

    I think that leaves out one important element BobbyL and that is time.

    If the XL expansion, is canceled it would delay a further acceleration of the extraction of the tar sands – which would delay those impacts as well.

    At this point any delay we can put in the process preventing further acceleration of our CO2 output is a good thing (this assumes we’ll get hold of our brains as climate impacts become worse over the next decade or so eventually leading to serious action, a bit of a long shot, but the only one we have at this point).

  21. Sasparilla says:

    Only in the context that this is a decision in the President’s hand (he doesn’t have to get the fossil fuel bought off House or Senate to do something here) – and canceling the XL would delay further accelerations of our CO2 emissions from tar sands oil.

    Any delay in that is one I will take as time is the one thing we don’t have nearly enough of (besides action on climate change).

  22. D. R. Tucker says:

    We’ll discuss the aftermath of President Obama’s climate speech last week as well as the Citizen’s Climate Lobby conference in D.C.
    Attendee and activist, Elli Sparks joins us to share her experience lobbying members of Congress for a carbon tax, including the ultra-
    conservative and influential representative, Eric Cantor! Next, journalist Peter Hart discusses his article for FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) about what’s wrong with some newspaper coverage of climate change, including Obama’s speech. And last but not least, environmental activist Carol Misseldine joins us to discuss Green Cities, the positive impact of meat-free diets, and her late environmental hero husband, Charles McGlashan.

  23. Jeff Huggins says:

    Superman1, thanks for pointing out that article, or at least something I can use to search for it. It sounds interesting. OF COURSE I have been as disappointed as anyone by politicians that have said things that weren’t sincere or that didn’t result in consistent action. Of course! But there are degrees in this. That point doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t even bother to ask pointed questions of politicians, shouldn’t bother to listen to how they answer them, and shouldn’t bother to note the different circumstances, and so forth. One key contextual element in these things is whether a politician is willing (and able) to say things clearly that AREN’T merely politically convenient to say, in other words, things that show the politician has some real skin in the game and is willing to say things even when it’s inconvenient to do so. And, there are also other circumstances in which what a politician says, and is willing to say, does provide some clue as to whether they have backbone or not, and what priorities they are honoring. In any case, please see the question I posed to you in an earlier post, I think it was the one about the media not covering climate change. Cheers, Jeff

  24. BobbyL says:

    Obviously TransCanada is not going to drop this project. They are already building the southern section. The only thing left is to build the northern section. Considering Obama gave a campaign speech in front of stacked up sections of the southern section it is hard to believe he is not going to approve the northern section. I doubt if he is afraid that the large number of loyal Democrats who have been protesting against the pipeline are going to start voting for the Green Party. It will be quite a surprise if he turns thumbs down on this project, particularly since the polls show that about 70% or more Americans support it.

  25. Raul M. says:

    His speech had to do with the present day climate indicating that action is required to slow the rise of the oceans. He may actually believe that action will be required. That nature will be responsive beyond the feelings of citizens, that nature will be responsive to the forcing of GHG’s.

  26. BobbyL says:

    He gave somewhat similar speeches during the 2008 campaign. I don’t doubt his sincerity. I think he is sincere about the need to limit global warming. However, I think he believes the most important thing that he can do is get an agreement to cap carbon emissions at the 2015 international climate meeting and isn’t all that concerned whether the emissions come from coal, conventional gas, fracked gas, conventional oil, fracked oil, or tar sands oils. I think his concern is the total emissions and not the source. That is only way I can make sense of his policies.

  27. The Canadian argument, which I have heard several times, will be that the carbon emissions from mining the bitumen and shipping it in the pipeline, compared to the emissions from the crude from the most egregious Third-World dictatorships, which have no regard for the environment, who flare rather than capture the associated gas, who use tremendously inefficient methods for handling the oil, whose equipment fleets are poorly maintained and way behind the technological curve, and who ship their crude in bunker-fuel-burning, poorly maintained scows, it’s less carbon-intensive.

    Of course, if they look at the entire life-cycle, including the GHG content of the diluents, products, and catalysts used to get the bitumen out of the ground and the oil out of the bitumen and into pipeline-ready condition, and the production, handling, and combustion of the byproducts, and deforestation, and remediation, tar sands are still extremely carbon-intensive compared to all but the most willful environmental criminality.

    But all they may need, based on Obama’s phrasing, is to be able to say they will displace something marginally worse, as circumscribed by a very narrow definition.

    I hope I am letting my cynicism run away with me. Actually, I lean toward Obama saying no, but in a way that leaves them room to get to yes.

  28. Colorado Bob says:

    Ot –
    The deniers have mangled yet another paper –

    The Title of the paper :
    Continental mass change from GRACE over 2002–2011 and its impact on sea level
    And it’s link :
    The paper in question –

    From this, Watts is claiming a sea level rise of 7 inches per century .
    All the usual suspects are now claiming little or no sea level rise.

  29. atcook27 says:

    Superdude, have you actually seen the industrial wasteland left after tar sands extraction? The tailings ponds can be seen from outer space! They are planning to decimate the largest (the size of Florida)intact Boreal forest remaining on the planet. This is an environmental catastrophe not just a climate change issue.

  30. Paul magnus says:

    Hey, I’m Canadian to rope me in with Harper.

  31. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The way that Obama effortlessly flits from ‘Rope a Hope Dope’ Obama with the lofty rhetoric and the moral posturing that convinces the credulati that, at last, he gets it, back to what I believe is the real Obama, the loyal and long-term servant of power, is a wonder to behold. What an actor he might make, after he retires.

  32. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Why even mention Watts and its latest travesty? Deny it the oxygen of attention. Just pretend that it doesn’t exist, until the trials for crimes against humanity begin. One of the denialists’ sneak weapons is the disgust and despondency that their actions induce in decent, sane, moral human beings.

  33. Ian P says:

    You might like to compare the USA with a couple of countries which are not popular right now. Let’s take Bolivia and Iran, but it could be many others. These two have GHG emissions per capita around one third of the USA. Let’s not fool ourselves that our hands are clean here.

  34. David Smith says:

    Asking Hillary to speak the words is an extremely low threshold when there are so many opportunities for action or to support the actions of others relative to climate change. Anything that she says at this point would be next to irrelevant. You should be asking here to demonstrate her support. Even that would not be foolproof.

  35. Jeff Huggins says:

    David, yes, the point is to ask her to speak her support (and views and commitment and such) and demonstrate her support. Indeed, demonstrating-by-speaking is a key part of the point. After all, the sort of “demonstration” that we are talking about is not for her to build a solar energy system by hand, on camera, nor is it for her to give a million bucks to a climate change organization (it’s easy to give money if you have a lot of it, and it doesn’t really demonstrate much, really). Instead, there are circumstances within which, and ways in which, speaking clearly is demonstrating commitment. As one example (but there are others), if she were to come out NOW against Keystone XL — or at least BEFORE President Obama announces his decision — that is the sort of “speech act”, as philosophers might call it, that would demonstrate something much more so that mere high-rhetoric in a future campaign. And I could give other examples too. So it is not the case that verbalizing something never “demonstrates” anything, and most of the things that she could do to “demonstrate” something would actually take the form of verbal or written decisions, pronouncements, stated commitments, sincere arguments, speeches, time commitments, and so forth.

    That said, I must say, one predominant dynamic here in the comments section is that 99 percent of comments (in response to ideas or offering ideas) have to do with reasons why actionable ideas “won’t work”. “It’ll never work” (so don’t even try) is the essence of most of these sorts of comments. It is no wonder that the other side is trouncing us. Instead, we need to adopt an attitude of recognizing potentially good ideas, discussing them positively, improving upon them if possible, and then coalescing around them and putting them into action.

    Granted, there are many situations (for example, campaigns during campaign season) in which mere words are often hollow and don’t demonstrate much of anything. That is one reason why it’s important to start NOW, to ask and challenge and “test” Hillary Clinton (and other would-be nominees) to see what they will say and do NOW to demonstrate their interest in, views regarding, and commitment to addressing climate change.

    Thanks for the comment, and cheers,


  36. David Smith says:

    If it didn’t bring great value to the porcess, why would they be spending $1,800,000,000 and going through years of red tape to build it? for the tax benefits?

    All the discussions I have heard seem to suggest that if the pipeline is built all other means of transport will be terminated. The pipeline replaces train, truck, ship… This cannot possibly be the case. The pipeling may temporarily replace some other transport but as supply increases they will utilize all non-pipeline means until such time as their economic calculations suggest the need for a new pipeline, which may have already happened.

    For the powerful, maintaining and extending power is the first consideration, economics comes next, then environment (maybe). Obama is part of this corporate system. Unfortunately, we are not.

  37. Raul M. says:

    That speaking the truth about global warming is insulting to her, though, is strange and beyond reason.

  38. Paul magnus says:

    They lock us in for years of extraction and divert investment from clean energy.

  39. Paul magnus says:

    They destroy democracy and promote the petrostate mentality.

  40. Paul magnus says:

    Destroy community

  41. Paul magnus says:

    The dilutant is a fossil fuel and is being imported from the Middle East and piped transported to Alberta.

    Another big destructive foot print!

  42. Superman1 says:

    When the temperatures climb to the level consistent with ten feet of water, we will have no worries; we’re toast by then.

  43. BobbyL says:

    That Working Group III chart suggests that it is game over for climate stabilization Keystone or no Keystone. Welcome to the post-game wrap-up…the climate activists gave it the good old college try but came up a little short unable to overcome the powerful team of deniers who had tons of corporate money plus apathy of the general population on their side.

  44. Jim says:

    There is no straight-faced way Obama can conclude that rip-offsets can effectively make Keystone climate neutral. No amount of hand-waving can overcome the fatal flaws of that “market” instrument. For the most cogent discussion, see Harvard Law Review.

  45. mulp says:

    Face it. Democracy does not work. What is needed is to follow Egypt’s example of a military coup.

    Then the US military could bomb all the fossil fuel production all over the world and force the masses to live right.

  46. Raul M. says:

    I think the argument has schizophrenic overtones and undertones.

  47. ltr says:

    The idea the President Obama will actually take a strong climate change stance as opposed to pretending to do so, I find ridiculous. President Obama has no record of liberalism on the environment other than speech making, but we foolishly keep on hoping rather than pushing.

  48. BobbyL says:

    I think they want to increase the tar sands operation from about 1 million gallons per day to 5 million gallons per day. Keystone would therefore account for about 20% of the proposed increase. Probably the rest would be other pipelines if they can get them approved. Probably rail would be plan B if it is feasible. Perhaps they will take some of the older pipelines out of service if Keystone gets built. I am not sure anyone knows the detailed plans of these pipeline companies.

  49. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    What in blazes has Bolivia done to deserve being lumped in with the USA? Bolivia led the poor world resistance at Copenhagen to the Western plot to foist the bulk of climate action onto the poor world, and is a leading voice for protecting Nature, particularly on behalf of indigenous peoples.

  50. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The reality of the fossil fuel zombocracy is that they will never, ever, give up their ‘precious’, their money and power. They are quite happy to destroy humanity rather than surrender. Unless and until we recognise an unpleasant fact, that the Right must be defeated, because they will not and, indeed, can not, accept their loss of power, wealth and dominance, we are emulating Sisyphus, and pushing it uphill.