EPA Finding Signals The Death Knell For The KeystoneXL Pipeline


Prior to the 18th Century, it was customary in England to ring a bell to announce a death that was called ‘tolling the bell’ or a ‘death knell.’ Since the Koch brothers bought Republicans control of Congress, President Obama has symbolically been the death knell of most of the Republicans’ stated agenda by announcing their proposed legislation was dead by way of Presidential veto. Included in the dead-on-arrival legislation is the unconstitutional legislation approving the Koch brothers’ cherished KeystoneXL pipeline.

The President has intimated several legitimate reasons for vetoing the Republicans’ gift to the Kochs, but now there is a damning indictment on the project courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency. Republicans and the Koch brothers make no secret that next to taxes, there is no part of the federal government they despise more than the EPA, so it is a major slap in their faces that it was the agency they hate above all others that delivered the death knell of their 8 billion-dollar dream project. Americans should expect a renewed Koch Congress assault on the EPA for doing the job a Republican president created the agency for; to protect the environment and Americans’ health and well-being.

Over the past few months, the President has been a little more vocal about the pipeline not creating jobs, not providing one gallon of gas for Americans, increasing fuel costs for Americans, and encroaching on Americans’ private property; all legitimate reasons to thwart the foreign pipeline’s construction. However, the President also stated categorically for four years his primary concern was how much constructing the pipeline will increase carbon emissions (greenhouse gases) that are the major drivers of  climate change.

In fact, the President often tells Republicans to wait until all the data is in on the environmental impact of the pipeline, particularly how it might exacerbate climate change. Now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has officially said developing Canadian oil sands will, beyond a shadow of a doubt, significantly increase greenhouse gases, the President has the reason he was looking for to reject construction of the KeystoneXL pipeline; particularly in light of his herculean effort and agreement with China to curb carbon emissions.

It is noteworthy that real climate scientists have warned for over three years that developing Canada’s substantial oil sands is “game over for the Earth’s climate,” but as is their wont; Republicans dismiss climate scientists’ warnings as fear mongering, an attack on Americans’ way of life, environmental terrorism, and a liberal hoax to destroy the fossil fuel industry.

On Tuesday, the EPA delivered a letter to the State Department which is reviewing the impact of the Keystone project that said that “Until efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of oil sands are successful and widespread, developing the tar sands crude represents a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.” The President has said often he will reject the foreign corporation’s (TransCanada) project if it would in any way lead to a significant increase in carbon pollution.

The President already told Republicans he would veto their effort to circumvent the State Department’s authority over the project and demanded they allow the Executive Branch to continue conducting a comprehensive review of the pipeline’s environmental impact.  Now that part of the review officially confirms the ‘significant increase in greenhouse gases,’ the project is exposed for what it really means; game over for the environment.

Environmentalists were already aware that developing Canada’s tar sands is an environmental hazard, but they were ecstatic that the EPA confirmed what climate scientists have known for a decade. One of the climate scientists leading the opposition to Keystone, Bill McKibben, said of the report that “The EPA, in polite, knife-sharp Washingtonese, has taken apart the State Department on Keystone and shown it to be a climate disaster.” A spokesperson for the Natural Resources Defense Council said the ” legitimate scientific assessment means the Keystone pipeline fails the standard President Obama said he’ll use to judge the $8 billion project.” The Canadian project director for the NRDC said in a statement that, “There should be no more doubt that President Obama must reject the proposed pipeline once and for all.”

Last year the State Department released an environmental impact statement prepared by a Koch brothers’ oil industry firm that said even though oil sands are incredibly more carbon intensive, constructing the Keystone pipeline “probably wouldn’t increase carbon emissions” because the toxic crude would be produced whether or not the project was approved. It is worth noting that since 2010, Republicans cut the State Department’s budget so drastically that they were “forced to outsource the environmental impact report” because they were severely understaffed.

According to the EPA’s 11-volume analysis, the tar sands oil carried by the Keystone pipeline will lead to the release of more than 27 million metric tons of carbon annually “compared to less carbon-heavy crude oil” and is the equivalent of 8 carbon intensive coal plants. The report also included a scenario “under which Keystone will play a larger role in spurring more tar sand development if oil prices fell below $75 a barrel making other shipping alternatives no longer viable.” The EPA said, “the low price scenario should be given additional weight in deciding the fate of the project in light of the substantial increase in greenhouse gas emissions.” The price for benchmark U.S. crude fell last week to $44.45 per barrel; the lowest since March 2009.

An oil industry lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute (API) slammed the EPA’s analysis as just worthless excuses to put off approving TransCanada’s construction permit to build Keystone. The group’s executive vice president was particularly critical of EPA reasoning and said its evaluation of the project’s environmental impact “is just another attempt to prolong the KeystoneXL review process.”

If building Keystone is so important to the American Petroleum Institute, and not an environmental threat, why are the lobbyists not exerting pressure on the Canadian government to allow the Canadian corporation to build the environmental disaster on Canadian soil? Because it is Canada’s oil and the Canadian government knows the pipeline is a major environmental hazard well-suited for America, but not Canada. Plus, the Canadian government has already contracted and sold Koch Industries purview and ownership of over 1.1 million acres of tar sands in Alberta; the largest single owners. It is likely why Canadian Prime Minister Brian Harper criticized President Obama’s veto threat and said, “we believe the project should be approved and built in America; not Canada.

The EPA’s comprehensive analysis gives President Obama exactly what he wanted to drive the final nail in the KeystoneXL coffin. The pipeline has no redeeming qualities, or benefits for the American people, regardless the persistent lies emanating from the likes of John Boehner and Koch-aligned Republicans in Congress. Besides the certain ruptures the already-completed portions of the pipeline are notorious for, the simple fact that it will drastically increase carbon emissions and exacerbate climate change scientists warn means ‘game over for Earth’s environment” is all the reason President Obama needs to kill the project once and for all as a leading voice in combatting climate change.


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