August 18, 2014

Debate Over Keystone Pipeline Heating Up – Final Decision Still Not Expected Until 2015


A new study released last week in Nature Climate Change estimated the Keystone XL Pipeline would have a greater impact on the environment the U.S. State Department has predicted. According a review of the study by the Los Angeles Times, the Keystone project “could lead to as much as four times more greenhouse gas emissions than the State Department has estimated” and would impact the climate. The U.S. State Department had concluded in its report the pipeline would not have a significant effect on the environment, an important statement since President Barack Obama indicated he will only approve the long-pending project if “it does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” Keystone supporters questioned the report’s methodology, as did some scholars in Washington, DC. In an analysis of the report, Council on Foreign Relations scholar Michael Levi said he believes the new estimate is too high and that emissions from the pipeline will be much closer to what the U.S. State Department has assumed. Regardless, the release of the Nature Climate Change report shows that opponents to the Keystone XL Pipeline are continuing to organize against the project’s approval. Indeed, after the study was released, more than one dozen environmental groups wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the Obama administration to reject the Keystone pipeline and another pipeline that will also extend from Canada into the Midwest. Meanwhile, since it is likely the Nebraska Supreme Court will take until new year to rule on a case challenging the state law that approved the Keystone Pipeline, President Barack Obama is still not expected to make his final decision on the pipeline’s fate until the new year. (The Obama administration has indicated the president wants to wait to hear the court’s ruling before he makes his final decision.) Arguments in the Nebraska case start next month.