Live Blogging the Keystone XL Environmental Assessment Release


STATE DEPARTMENT REPORT on Keystone XL Pipeline draft environmental impact assessment (SEIShas just been released. 

We are live blogging the release, the analysis, the news and the reactions here:

NRDC Canada Project Director Danielle Droitsch issued this statement:

“The State Department is trying to duck the significant climate implications of this project, in direct contradiction to President Obama’s calls for climate action to protect our future. The State Department has done him a disservice by papering over those important issues.

“As the nation grapples with the climate hole we are stuck in, we must stop digging. Keystone XL is a steam shovel. We intend to make that clear to the State Department and President Obama during the upcoming public comment period. Keystone XL is bad for the climate and it should be denied.”

Oil Change International Executive Director Stephen Kretzmann has a detailed reaction here, excerpt:

“Our concerns with the impact statement for the Keystone XL pipeline released today are extensive and only serve to further strengthen the clear need for Secretary Kerry and President Obama to reject this proposed pipeline project. This month’s largest-ever Forward on Climate rally and other events make it clear that there is a large and growing movement that will support them should they choose to reject this dirty pipeline.   Over the next 45 days, we are confident Americans will make this abundantly clear to the Administration.”

Bill McKibben from reacts:

Yesterday Time Magazine declared that Keystone had become the Stonewall and the Selma of the climate movement – and today we got a reminder of just how tough those fights were, and how tough this one will be.

On a Friday afternoon, with Secretary of State John Kerry half a world away and D.C. focused on the budget fight, the State Department released a new environmental impact statement for the pipeline. Like the last such report, it found that approving a 800,000 barrel-a-day fuse to one of the planet’s biggest carbon bombs was “unlikely to have a substantial impact” on the tar sands or the climate.

That, in a word, is nonsense – some of our most important climate scientists in the U.S. have written the State Department to explain exactly how dangerous Keystone is. Just yesterday Europe’s top climate diplomat pointed out that it would send a truly terrible signal to the rest of the world.

President Obama will be making a decision in a few short months. I won’t lie: today’s report makes the odds look even tougher – and the power of the fossil fuel lobby hasn’t waned one bit.
Read more

Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman issued the following statement on the State Department’s release of a draft supplemental environmental impact statement of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline:

“The draft impact statement appears to be seriously flawed.  We don’t need this dirty oil.  To stop climate change and the destructive storms, droughts, floods, and wildfires that we are already experiencing, we should be investing in clean energy, not building a pipeline that will speed the exploitation of Canada’s highly polluting tar sands.” 

Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) provided the following comments:

“We cannot stress our extreme disappointment with this report.  The fact that the Keystone XL pipeline is deemed as non-consequential and not connected to the unabated expansion of Tar Sands is simply not true. Without adequate roadways to markets the tar sands would be locked in the ground. Industry simply cannot expand without pipelines.  Expansion of the tar sands in my peoples homelands means a death sentence for our way for life, destruction of eco-systems vital to the continuation of our inherent treaty rights and massive contributions to catastrophic global climate change, a fate we all share.

The ACFN will not let this report stop us from continuing to challenge Shell Oil’s proposed Tar Sands expansion projects in Alberta and any affiliated pipelines that would carry raw bitumen to refiners and tankers across Turtle Island. ACFN is currently looking to options to submit comments regarding our substantive concerns.  We hope that you all echo our struggle against expansion by continuing your fight against the Keystone XL pipeline.”

National Wildlife Federation reactions
Jim Lyon, NWF Vice President for conservation, says “If Keystone XL wouldn’t speed tar sands development, why are oil companies pouring millions into lobbying and political contributions to build it? By rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, President Obama can keep billions of tons of climate-killing carbon pollution locked safely in the ground.”

NWF‘s Peter LaFonatine writes “if Obama rejects the project, it makes it that much harder, politically and economically, for the next company to build a pipeline through the U.S.; precedent will have been set.”

“In other words, the State Department has fundamentally ignored its own role in how this scenario plays out. If they allow pipelines to get permits, the tar sands will be developed. If they reject the permits, the oil industry will really struggle to get its dirty product out of Canada. Just take a look at the cage match they’re fighting over the “Northern Gateway” pipeline, the Canadian equivalent of Keystone XL, which is going nowhere fast, thanks to steadfast opposition from First Nations (tribal) groups and tens of thousands of other citizens north of the border.”

Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, had the following to say in response to the State Department’s release of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement:

“It seems like Secretary Kerry and the State Department missed President Obama’s State of the Union and inaugural address. The draft SEIS reads like an on-ramp to justify the Keystone XL pipeline project. We cannot solve the climate crisis when the State Department fails to understand the basic climate, environmental and economic impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement:

No one who is serious about protecting the future of our planet and reversing global warming could support this pipeline project. Tar sands oil is the dirtiest on Earth, and the Environmental Protection Agency has said clearly that tar sands production releases 82 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil.

President Obama spoke eloquently in his Inaugural Address and State of the Union about the need to take action to reverse global warming. It’s now time to turn words into action. The president cannot tell us that he is concerned about global warming and approve the Keystone XL project. I again call on the president to reject this dangerous project and continue moving our nation toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy. 

It is bad enough that some people in Washington deny the overwhelming scientific evidence and claim that global warming is a hoax and a Hollywood conspiracy. In my view, it would be equally absurd to claim concern about global warming while then approving decisions that will literally throw fuel on the fire of this planetary crisis. The president must reject the Keystone XL project.”

Rigzone has the gleeful reaction from American Petroleum Institute (API) Executive Vice President Marty Durbin:

“No matter how many times KXL is reviewed, the result is the same: no significant environmental impact,” said Durbin. “The latest impact statement from the State Department puts this important, job-creating project one step closer to reality. Nebraska has finished its final Keystone XL assessment and the governor has given it his full support. The last approval needed is by President Obama, and we urge him to do so as soon as possible.

“We hope the president will choose to side with the American people who strongly support the pipeline in poll after poll. The project will create thousands of good paying jobs for the safest, most highly trained workers of the building trades at a time when construction workers have an unemployment rate higher than the national average. Keystone XL will also enhance our energy security. It would be a win win for the U.S.”

According to the Calgary Herald, Travis Davies, spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Canada’s largest oil and gas industry lobby group, industry is pleased with the draft report.

“It’s welcome. It’s obviously a step forward and hopefully provides a little impetus for the president making a decision on this,” he said. “It’s consistent with what the State Department found last time it went through it. If anything, it reaffirms the merits of the project.”

Travies also echoed the report’s suggestion that tar sands expansion does not rely on the Keystone XL‘s approval. He stated “What affects production here is demand. There’s strong demand in the Gulf (from heavy oil refineries), there are projects moving forward beyond Keystone XL.”

Greenpeace USA Executive Director Phil Radford issued the following statement:

“The State Department’s report got one thing right: we don’t need the Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline to meet America’s energy needs. And it got something very, very wrong: it is just untrue that piping oil from the Tar Sands will not have a devastating impact on our climate. To fulfill his promise to the American people to address global warming, the President must say no to the Keystone Pipeline.

Last month, over 40,000 people rallied on the National Mall to hold President Obama to his soaring climate change rhetoric and stop the Keystone XL pipeline. These people are some of Obama’s most passionate supporters, people who worked hard to get him re-elected, in part because they view him as a leader on an issue they care deeply about–global warming. Letting corporations get rich off of environmental devastation will make Obama’s climate rhetoric look like the worst kind of greenwashing.  Obama has the opportunity to make the right decision on Keystone, and he must weigh the immediate environmental impacts, along with the signal Obama’s decision on keystone could send on his future energy policies.”

Greenpeace Canada’s Climate and Energy campaigner Mike Hudema reacts:

“One of the major weaknesses of this report is that it assumes that building this pipeline will have no impact on tar sands expansion because the oil will magically get to market some other way. The truth is that we have a choice. We can spend billions to build this pipeline and the new tar sands mines required to fill it or we can invest those dollars in solutions that end our addiction to oil, improve the health of our communities and stop climate change. Our kids will only thank us for one of those choices.”

Checks and Balances Project notes the fact that this news came out on a Friday afternoon, a manuever perfected by the George W. Bush administration to release bad news at a time when most people are tuning out for the weekend. 
Another Friday News Dump: State Department Paves Way for Keystone XL Approval

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, issued the following statement:

“I intend to closely review the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline. I continue to be very concerned about the contribution that the Keystone XL pipeline would make to dangerous climate change.”

CREDO calls State Dept’s EIS on Keystone XLcoward’s logic” in statement:
“The State Department’s environmental assessment is a vehicle for the White House to test the waters to see if the public will buy its false and cynical argument that the Canadian Tar Sands are going to get burned anyway, and so the government’s chief climate scientist’s assertion that Keystone XL will spell ‘game over’ for the climate may be true but is essentially irrelevant,” said Becky Bond, political director at CREDO. “This is a coward’s logic – that we should let the bankers and the oil companies profit while the planet inevitably burns.”

“The Keystone XL pipeline is clearly not in the national interest of the United States and the president needs to know that all hell will break loose if he approves it. At CREDO, we will do everything in our power to resist this pipeline – including risking arrest through peaceful civil disobedience.

“Over 500,000 CREDO activists have called on President Obama and the State Department to reject the permit for the Keystone pipeline. And we will continue to pressure President Obama to change course rather than allow his legacy on climate to be responsible for lighting the fuse on the carbon bomb that is the Canadian Tar Sands.”

Maclean’s DC correspondent Luiza Ch. Savage reports highlights of Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Kerri-Ann Jones’ briefing for reporters in a blog titled State Dept. on Keystone XL: If you want to stop this, please protest very loudly:
This is not a decision

This draft SEIS is a technical review of potential environmental impacts. This draft is not a decision on presidential permit application,” she said.

In about a week, the department will begin a 45-day public comment period on the draft, she said. During that time, State will hold another public meeting in Nebraska, where an alternative route has been proposed. Then, after reviewing comments, the department will write a final version of the report. Then the State Department will begin to consider whether the project is in the “National Interest.” TransCanada will be waiting a few more months for a final decision on whether or not there will be a presidential permit to go ahead with the construction of the cross-border section of the pipeline.

Looking at the mainstream news coverage right now on the Keystone draft environmental impact assessment, it is disturbingly positive. If Obama and the State Department are wanting to spin this story as all positive for the Keystone XL pipeline, it is working. – Kevin 

And in obvious news: Texas Republican Senator, John Cornyn, says there “is no reason for the president to delay…”

Center for American Progress take on the State Department’s assessment of Keystone XL pipeline project. Via ThinkProgress.

Canadian reporter Mike De Souza’s take on the Keystone XL envirnonmental assessment.

Tzeporah Berman ‏@Tzeporah – tweets:

KXL route would still cross 1,073 waterbodies, 56 rivers & streams 25 miles of mapped floodplains … #noxkl

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune just released the following reaction in a press release:  
“The Sierra Club is outraged by the State Department’s deeply flawed analysis today and what can only be interpreted as lip service to one of the greatest threats to our children’s future: climate disruption.  
“We’re mystified as to how the State Department can acknowledge the negative effects of the Earth’s dirtiest oil on our climate, but at the same time claim that the proposed pipeline will ‘not likely result in significant adverse environmental effects.’ Whether this failure was willful or accidental, this report is nothing short of malpractice.  
“President Obama said that he’s committed to fighting the climate crisis.  If that is true, he should throw the State Department’s report away and reject the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline.”

Huffington Post: environmentalists upset over State Department analysis of Keystone XL

Reading through the assessment section on Climate Change Impacts, it seems the State Department only took into account the impacts of climate change on the pipeline project, rather than the far more important analysis of the impacts of Keystone XL and tar sands expansion driving climate change disruption. – Brendan

Summary of Impacts section of the environmental assessment states:

“Spills associated with the proposed Project that enter the environment are expected to be rare and relatively small.”

Are they forgetting about the Michigan Kalamazoo River disaster!? – Kevin 

Lots of interesting news coming in via Twitter:

Washington Post reporting: 

Keystone XL pipeline will not have huge impact on climate, draft analysis says

Keystone XL Trending on Twitter (screencap):

One analyst just told me that this environmental assessment report is setting up for a yes by President Obama for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline project. What do others think? – Kevin 

From the assessment’s Executive Summary:

“The annual CO2e emissions from the proposed Project is equivalent to CO2e emissions from approximately 626,000 passenger vehicles operating 
for one year or 398,000 homes using electricity for one year.”

State Department environmental assessment report is leaving room here with opening up a 45-day comment period. This will instigate an epic online comment submission battle between pro-oil groups, like the American Petroleum Institute and environmental campaigners like – Kevin 

Okay, first news out. But no source yet. Just seeing this all over Twitter – again, yet to be confirmed: 

RT @joshrogin: State Department has approved the Keystone XL pipeline plan as being environmentally sound.

Background information here from Inside Climate News on Keystone XL, tar sands and the environmental impacts of pipeline disasters. 

Here’s Democracy Now’s in-depth look at the Keystone XL pipeline. Lots of great background information here. 

Director of Climate Strategy Dan Weiss at the Center for American Progress just tweeted: 

Big #Oil wants you to think Keystone would help lower gas prices, but they are very wrong  (see myth number 3)

A lot of folks online right now talking about how the Keystone XL environmental assessment is coming late on a Friday – very typical when someone wants to put out bad news. This White House has used the tactic a lot. Another thing to note is that this isn’t just any Friday afternoon, it is also the day final day to reach a sequester deal in Congress. All eyes in the media are focused on that! – Kevin 

A point of clarification for all you tweeters and bloggers out there. This is NOT a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline project, but it is still very significant. This environmental assessment report is the last step before President Obama will have to issue or reject a Presidential permit to allow construction of the pipeline across the border from Canada into the United States. – Kevin

Canadian Press is saying that the Keystone XL environmental assessment report will be ‘favorable’ for pipeline project.

Yahoo News has a bit more information in anticipation of the Keystone XL environmental impact report release. Yahoo News is reporting that: “U.S. environmental groups say it [the assessment] will downplay the risks of the pipeline.

Here’s the link to the US State Department’s media release page. Most likely where they will sneak up all the info they release this afternoon on Keystone XL.

While we wait for the official release, what are people thinking? Will the report be waffly, pro-keystone, against keystone? Leave a comment below if you want. Would be great to hear what people think. – Kevin

Analyst says Keystone decision could be ‘very bad’ for Warren Buffett

Watching a lot of chatter on the Twitter Hashtags: #Keystone and #NoXKL

Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmog. He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning. Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks. Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder. Prior to DeSmog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health. In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications. Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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