By Susan Casey-Lefkowitz via NRDC’s Switchboard
New research confirms what we have heard time and again from the industry itself: the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will be a direct cause of an increase in tar sands oil development. More tar sands oil taken out of the ground means more dangerous pollution that hurts our climate and health. And, this new research also shows that tar sands will cause even more climate pollution than we previously thought due to the impacts of the high carbon byproduct petroleum coke.
This is especially important in a time where our communities are feeling the damage of climate change in violent storms, wildfires, droughts and floods. Just recently a federal advisory panel—established by Congress in 1990 to analyze climate research—released the draft of its third National Climatic Assessment. The report confirmed there is “unambiguous evidence” that the earth is warming.
The Pembina Institute’s analysis, “The climate implications of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline”, shows that pipelines are a key determinant of tar sands expansion, and argues that the increase in greenhouse gas emissions associated with supplying the Keystone XL pipeline with tar sands bitumen represents a significant barrier to Canada meeting its domestic and international climate commitments.
Oil Change International’s new report “Petroleum Coke: The Coal Hiding in the Tar Sands” reveals that current analyses of the impacts of tar sands fail to account for a high-carbon byproduct of the refining process: petroleum coke. Because it is considered a refinery byproduct, petcoke emissions are not included in most assessments of the climate impact of tar sands. Thus, the climate impact of oil production is being consistently undercounted.
This analysis is making headway in Washington. Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman noted: “The new reports show that TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline is the key that will unlock the tar sands. If the pipeline is approved, the world will face millions more tons of carbon pollution each year for decades to come. After Hurricane Sandy, devastating drought, unprecedented wildfires, and the warmest year on record in the United States, we know that climate change is happening now, we have to fight it now, and we must say no to this pollution pipeline now.”
And scientists have been weighing in as well.