Robert Redford’s latest letter in the Huffington Post contains some points that we would like to factually rebut.
Mr. Redford’s Reality Check on Keystone XL, in the Huffington Post continues the troubling trend of on-going misinformation we’ve seen from Keystone XL opponents. Mr. Redford is certainly entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.
With respect to where refined products from a barrel of oil will go, Mr. Redford cannot tell you or I where any one refined product from any one pipeline will end up, nor can he tell you what that product might be. It could be turned into aviation fuel, it could be turned into plastics or it could be turned into latex gloves worn by doctors. What we do know is that the vast majority (91%) of refined petroleum products that are produced in the United States stay in the United States for the benefit of American consumers
The top destinations for refined products that are not consumed in the U.S. are Canada, Mexico and the Netherlands. We also know that “U.S. product exports (PDF, 5.2 MB) are not sensitive to different scenarios of pipeline development,” as stated in the U.S. Department of State’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (PDF, 3.58 MB).
Keystone XL connects the North America’s largest oil reserves with the largest and most sophisticated refinery hub in the world. Keystone XL will transport North American crude oil to refineries where the product is then turned into thousands of different products we use every single day. That safe, secure and reliable connection enhances U.S. energy security. I’m sure most Americans would agree, relying on higher-priced, unstable, conflict oil from Venezuela and the Middle East is not the right path.
Mr. Redford states: “In this report, the State Department acknowledged that Keystone XL will drive tar sands expansion and climate change if we see low oil prices and other pipeline and rail projects don’t move ahead.” To be clear, the State Department’s report actually states: “The proposed Project is unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction in oil sands areas (based on expected oil prices, oil-sands supply costs, transport costs and supply-demand scenarios).”
In addition, Michael Levi, a David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, writes that a scenario, like the one proposed by Mr. Redford, is so unlikely “the EIS authors . . . treat this possibility as an outlier,” adding “. . . it’s difficult to conjure a low oil price case in which oil sands production is sharply constrained.”
With regard to crude-by-rail projects in Canada, there is more than a million barrels of capacity currently in development. As you can see in this image from the FSEIS market analysis, crude-by-rail continues its unprecedented growth.
Rail boom: The substantial growth in crude oil shipped by rail is evident in these two State Department maps, that show crude oil by rail and barge projects in 2010 (top image) in comparison to the same projects planned for 2013 and 2016 (bottom image). Credit: State Department Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, January 31, 2013.
It is inaccurate to suggest oil sands production will be shut-in if Keystone XL is denied. Production has not stopped; imports of Canadian oil to the United States have increased and production in the Bakken has icreased; which means transportation has simply moved from pipelines to rail.
The fact is Keystone XL is the most studied cross-border pipeline in the history of the United States. The United States has invested more than five years, five reports and well in excess of 17,000 pages of scientific review to ensure that this project have project will be safe and will not have an adverse impact on the climate change or the environment.
There is one thing that we can agree on, and that is the need to confront the challenge of climate change. Companies such as TransCanada are already part of the solution. To date, we have invested more than $5 billion in emission-less energy sources, including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear. But the reality is the United States will be one of the largest consumers of oil in the world for decades to come, importing upwards of six million barrels a day until 2040.
So while we’re powering millions of homes with emission-less and renewable energy, we’re focused on upgrading U.S. energy infrastructure so, during the transition to a lower carbon future, the United States can get more of its oil from a trusted ally — Canada.
President, Energy & Oil Pipelines TransCanada