It is hard to believe, in fact unbelievable, that a government report could claim that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would have no major impact on the environment and not contribute to more airborne carbon pollution.
The five-year-old pipeline proposal, which would carry oil from the Alberta tar sands 1,180 miles to existing pipelines in Nebraska, has been mired in the government’s regulatory process because President Barack Obama said he would not approve it unless it was clear the pipeline would not contribute to emissions associated with climate change.
The State Department’s report released Friday that raised no serious environmental concerns would seem to leave the president with justification to OK the pipeline. But that would be a terrible mistake.
Not only would the pipeline contribute to further destruction of the tar sands region of Alberta, it also would help send 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries in Texas. The refining and eventual use of that oil certainly would add to the fossil-fuel pollution from which we should be downsizing.
Proponents of the pipeline may argue that the project would create jobs and boost our energy security. However, the best way to strengthen energy security is to invest more resources into alternative, renewable energy sources.
Environmentalists are on the mark by saying that pipeline approval would contradict Obama’s vow to fight climate change. They even insist the report can be interpreted as an argument against the pipeline.
The project now heads to a 30-day comment period and review by Secretary of State John Kerry and other agencies. The president has 90 days to make the decision on the pipeline.
If approved, the battle over the pipeline project will move out of the halls of government and into the field, as national opponents have declared they have recruited tens of thousands of volunteers to take part in civil disobedience.