President Obama held his much-anticipated (by some) speech today heralding his plan to utilize his executive powers and the EPA to navigate around the treacherous do-nothing, obstructionist shoals of Congress to fight global warming. Yes, I’m no Obama fan; he’s been so weak (and dial test-wary) on the most pressing issue of our time ever since he let cap-and-trade died in the Senate (after the House closely-passed it in 2010) without providing an Aaron Sorkin-like “American President” soliloquy providing leadership for the U.S. and the world on the subject. Much of this speech was pre-released over the weekend and wasn’t a huge surprise to anybody, really.
Ok, I err. Perhaps there was ONE surprising revelation — how Obama really feels about the Keystone pipeline, and the standards needed to approve it. I think this took alot of us by (guarded) surprise. For instance, he’s not talking about Keystone in economic or “jobs, jobs, jobs” terms. Rather, he’s talking about it on the most salient point, Keystone’s effect on global warming. That’s definitely a move in the right direction (though this cynic remains…cynical on what he’ll do).
“Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest,” the president said in a Tuesday speech on climate change. “And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. 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.”
But here’s my simple analysis for the State Department and Obama (with apologies to my college logic class instructor):
1. If carbon dioxide is pollution;
2. And the tar sands contain TWICE the amount of carbon than has ever been belched into the sky since the industrial revolution;
3. And the Keystone pipeline allows the carbon in the tar sands to be developed;
4. Then, approval of Keystone means a “significant exacerbation of carbon pollution.”
Man, that’s a pretty low bar. Not sure how the State Department can get around that one if they’re even slightly intellectually honest about it.
It’s unclear exactly how much in greenhouse gas emissions will have to be offset in order for the project to get the green light. Questions also remain about whether the emissions that would have to be offset include those resulting from economic activity spurred by the pipeline or just those from the construction of the pipeline itself.
Yeah, my question exactly — just where do you offset TWICE the amount of carbon ever belched into our skies from industrial sources since the 1700s?
Further muddying what Obama’s intentions were in his speech’s Keystone’s remarks are these: (from a Think Progress story):
Earlier this year, the State Department released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) written by a consulting firm paid by TransCanada, the company trying to get the pipeline built. After a public comment period which ended in April, State is reviewing those comments and will release a Final EIS later this year.
One notable public comment was submitted by the EPA, which said that the draft EIS had “insufficient information” and needed to go back to the drawing board. It also questioned the report’s conclusion that the extraction of tar sands is inevitable.
Just by Obama’s simple words alone Keystone does not merit this authorization.
Oh yeah, “Divest!”
- OK, Now TransCanada Is Just Throwing it in Our Face (Keystone) (gettingonmysoapbox.wordpress.com)
- President Obama’s climate change speech may hint at possible Keystone XL pipeline rejection (dailykos.com)
- Obama’s Bargain – New Climate Change Policy for Keystone Pipeline Approval (gettingonmysoapbox.wordpress.com)