No material impact on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions
An important independent report released by IHS CERA agrees with key findings from the U.S. State Department’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) that Keystone XL will “have no material impact on U.S. greenhouse gasses (GHGs)” and that with or without Keystone XL, oil sands production will continue.
“The GHG emissions from Venezuelan supply are in the same GHG intensity range as oil sands. Thus, in a scenario in which incremental oil sands production did not reach the US Gulf market, there would be little to no change in the overall GHG intensity of the US crude slate. If Gulf refiners cannot access Canadian heavy oil, the most likely alternative is Venezuelan supply, which is projected to grow based on ongoing investments.”
The findings echo recent statements, made by prominent climate scientists in the magazine Nature, acknowledging that Keystone XL is not “game over” for the planet. Here’s what prominent climate scientists had to say in Nature:
- “The extreme statements — that this is ‘game over’ for the planet — are clearly not intellectually true . . .” — David Keith, a Canadian climate scientist at Harvard.
- “As a serious strategy for dealing with climate, blocking Keystone is a waste of time. But as a strategy for arousing passion, it is dynamite.” — David Victor, a climate-policy expert at the University of California.
- “I don’t believe that whether the pipeline is built or not will have any detectable climate effect.” — Ken Caldeira, climate researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif.
The report also agrees with the State Department’s findings that without Keystone XL, the oil sands will still be developed, highlighting that “Keystone XL is not the only option for moving oil sands.”
“Even if the Keystone XL pipeline does not move forward, we do not expect a material change to oil sands production growth. Industry would turn to alternative pipeline projects and rail for oil sands transportation. Even if new pipeline capacity does not keep pace with supply growth, rail movements can continue to grow. Given sufficient investment, our view is that the economics for moving heavy oil sands crude by rail could improve further, even approaching pipeline economics. Therefore GHG emissions will be unaffected by the fate of Keystone XL.”
Should Keystone XL receive approval it will effectively displace all U.S. imports of heavy oil from Venezuela, further reducing reliance on OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries).
“[T]he Gulf Coast region has a strong appetite for heavy crude — requiring 2.4 million barrels per day (mbd) in 2012. Today, the majority of heavy [oil] supply on the USGC comes from Venezuela (0.8 mbd), followed by Mexico (0.7 mbd); the rest is from smaller suppliers including Colombia and Brazil. If constructed, the Keystone XL pipeline would allow about 730,000 bd more of heavy crude to transit from the oil sands to the USGC, increasing the market for Canadian producers. Therefore, with or without oil sands supply to the Gulf Coast, refiners there will continue to process heavy crude oils.”
This report further confirms what four years and over 12,000 pages of environmental studies have repeatedly found; Keystone XL lives up to the safety and environmental standards outlined by the President at his speech in Georgetown.
For the people of the United States, Keystone XL is a fundamental choice for a $5.3-billion state-of-the-art energy infrastructure project that will enhance energy security, displace nearly a million barrels of OPEC oil and support more than 40,000 direct and indirect jobs without any material effect on greenhouse gasses. Or Americans can continue to import higher-priced, ‘conflict oil’ from the Middle East and Venezuela – where American values and interests are not shared or respected.