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Obama: no Keystone XL if significant exacerbation of GHG; Canada: no problem

In his talk at Georgetown University outlining his climate action plan, President Barack Obama suggested that the controversial Keystone XL pipeline would only be built if the project “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.

Now, I know there’s been, for example, a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal to build a pipeline, the Keystone pipeline, that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands down to refineries in the Gulf. And the State Department is going through the final stages of evaluating the proposal. That’s how it’s always been done. But I do want to be clear: Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. (Applause.) 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. It’s relevant.

—President Obama

In Toronto, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said later that “On a net basis, I don’t see any increase on emissions.” Oliver said that 20% of the crude transported by Keystone was of lighter grades coming from North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan. The remaining crude coming from the Alberta oilsands has the same or lower emissions than the heavy crude that the US imports from Venezuela, he noted.

(Oliver will be in Vancouver today making an announcement related to the Harper Government’s commitment to further strengthening Canada’s pipeline system.)



With the proper/optimum feed stock mix, the NET tail end emissions could effectively be lower than heavy crude oil from Venezuela.

However, front end emissions are probably much higher.

Should both 'tail end' and 'front end' emissions be considered?

Bob Wallace

All emissions.


Real headline should be "Obama does as much as he can, without the help of the do-nothing Congress, about climate change . . . and it's still too much for FoxNews"


More pure Politics. The eco crowd, always responds to symbolic actions, and applauds his "Resolve". Meanwhile all his "conditional reservations", have already been satisfied by EPA documents.

So the Keystone builders are also satisfied as it is built. Cynically, political donations will be accepted from both sides.

Way to go to satisfy all, while satisfying only one side.


It's only "pure politics" in North America. In other countries conservatives do not reject science as a policy of their party.

Say hello to current Science Committee member Paul Broun (R-GA): “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”

...and oh yeah "climate change is a hoax."



The irony is that Canada probably could get the emissions from tar sands below those from conventional oil.  All it would take is the use of nuclear energy instead of methane to produce the steam for SAGD and other processing.  That would bring upstream emissions to near-zero.

50 or even 40 years ago, science was not a partisan issue in the USA.  How far we have fallen.


If we had the nuclear energy why not just use it to recharge our BEVs and leave the tar in the sands?


Because the NRC is still in the way of doing that in the region between the 48th parallel and the Rio Grande.


I was speaking as a Canadian who lives above the 48th parallel.


Canada is using the tar sands for export income as well as domestic consumption.  OTOH, if Canada goes BEV and uses all of its oil for export (and aircraft), it will be an example that cannot be ignored in e.g. Missouri and Oklahoma.

If Ottawa ever solicits my advice, I'll suggest that you electrify the Trans-Can with something like Hanazawa's system, and lay parallel electrified rail lines for Bladerunner trucks.  Damn, now they don't need me to deliver that advice in person.  There goes my consulting gig!


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