Scientists urge State Dept to consider climate change in new Keystone XL pipeline review

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Leading climate scientists released a letter to Secretary Clinton today, urging the State Department to conduct a serious review of the climate change impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline. The State Department is currently accepting comments on what environmental considerations should be included in the supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) required for the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. "Omitting climate change from the considerations," as the State Department currently appears to be doing, "is neither wise nor credible," the scientists say. As CSW said to the State Department in a comment at an earlier stage of permitting, there are multiple reasons to oppose granting a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline – and one overriding ‘national interest’ criterion.

Scientist Letter on Keystone XL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 17, 2012

Nation’s Top Scientists Urge State Department to Consider Climate Change in New Review for Keystone XL Pipeline

WASHINGTON, DC -- Ten of the nation’s top climate scientists released a letter to Secretary Clinton today, urging the State Department to conduct a serious review of the climate change impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“At the moment, your department is planning to consider the effects of the pipeline on ‘recreation,’ ‘visual resources,’ and ‘noise,’ among other factors,” wrote the scientists. “Those are important—but omitting climate change from the considerations is neither wise nor credible.”

The State Department is currently accepting comments on the scoping evaluation that will determine what environmental considerations will be included in the supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) required for the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The department’s previous pipeline EIS downplayed climate risks by arguing that the tar sands would be developed with or without Keystone XL and therefore the project had no responsibility for the additional greenhouse gas emissions that come from burning tar sands oil.

"Keystone became the biggest environmental cause of Obama's first term--and the reason most of those who marched and went to jail gave for their concern was the climate impact of those vast tar sands," said May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org. "It would be ironic in the extreme if the State Dept. didn't take the issue seriously in its review."

A coalition of environmental groups including 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, CREDO, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation, and Sierra Club are collecting hundreds of thousands of comments on the SEIS scoping evaluation that will be delivered to the State Department before the July 30 comment deadline.

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Full text of the letter:

July 17, 2012

Dear Secretary Clinton,

We are writing to ask that the State Department conduct, as part of its evaluation of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, a serious review of the effect of helping open Canada’s tar sands on the planet’s climate.

At the moment, your department is planning to consider the effects of the pipeline on “recreation,” “visual resources,” and “noise,” among other factors. Those are important—but omitting climate change from the considerations is neither wise nor credible. The vast volumes of carbon in the tar sands ensure that they will play an important role in whether or not climate change gets out of hand; understanding the role this largescale new pipeline will play in that process is clearly crucial.

We were pleased that President Obama saw fit to review this project more carefully; it would be a shame if that review did not manage to comprehensively cover the most important questions at issue.

Sincerely,

John Abraham
Associate Professor, School of Engineering
University of St. Thomas
 
Ken Caldeira
Senior Scientist
Department of Global Ecology
Carnegie Institution
 
James Hansen
Research Scientist
The International Research Institute for Climate and Society
The Earth Institute, Columbia University
 
Michael MacCracken
Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs
Climate Institute
 
Michael E. Mann
Professor of Meteorology
Director, Earth System Science Center
The Pennsylvania State University
 
James McCarthy
Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography
Harvard University
 
Michael Oppenheimer
Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs
Woodrow Wilson School and Department of Geosciences
Princeton University
 
Raymond T. Pierrehumbert
Louis Block Professor in the Geophysical Sciences
The University of Chicago
 
Richard Somerville
Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
 
George M. Woodwell
Founder, Director Emeritus, and Senior Scientist
Woods Hole Research Center
 
Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.

 

Earlier posts:

Climate Science Watch comment to the State Department on the Keystone XL pipeline permit 

There are multiple reasons to oppose granting a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline – and one overriding ‘national interest’ criterion. Climate Science Watch submitted comments to the State Department on October 9, 2011, on the first environmental impact statement for the Keystone XL Project.

At Netroots Nation, activists vs. the ‘inevitable’ tar sands pipeline

Jim Hansen arrest at White House tar sands pipeline protest: “We had a dream”

Keystone XL tar sands pipeline demonstrators surround White House - pipeline permit decision blocked until 2013

Letter from scientists calling on Obama to block the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline

See this earlier letter from scientists to President Obama, which includes this: "If the pipeline is to be built, you as president have to declare that it is 'in the national interest.' As scientists, speaking for ourselves and not for any of our institutions, we can say categorically that it’s not only not in the national interest, it’s also not in the planet’s best interest."

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