"Stand With Us Hillary" in opposing Keystone XL

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Leaders of 30 conservation groups representing millions of Americans sent a letter to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on May 21 urging her to speak out against the Keystone XL pipeline. Secretary Clinton has yet to take a public position on Keystone XL. “Coming out strong against Keystone XL gives Hillary a chance to show the climate movement that she stands with us, and not the fossil fuel industry,” says May Boeve, executive director of 350.org.

Text of the letter and list of signers

Earlier posts:

Keystone XL pipeline decision postponed again -- need for pressure continues

The Obama administration has once again postponed a decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, likely delaying a final decision until after the November 2014 elections. It seems clear that the anti-pipeline campaign initiated in the heartland and sparked as a national issue by our civil disobedience demonstrations at the White House in 2011 continues to have an impact.

Comment to State Department on Keystone XL pipeline "National Interest Determination"

Secretary Kerry already knows the answer to the question of whether granting a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest: the pipeline is not in the U.S. interest and it is not in the global interest, we said in our Climate Science Watch comment on the State Department's National Interest Determination on the pipeline.

100+ scientists and economists call on Obama and Kerry to reject Keystone XL

From an open letter on April 7: "A critical first step is to stop making climate change worse by tapping into disproportionately carbon-intensive energy sources like tar sands bitumen. The Keystone XL pipeline will drive expansion of the energy-intensive strip-mining and drilling of tar sands from under Canada's Boreal forest, increasing global carbon emissions. ... [T]he State Department environmental review [used] business-as-usual energy scenarios that would lead to a catastrophic six degrees Celsius rise in global warming. ... Six degrees Celsius of global warming has no place in a sound climate plan."

Keystone XL tar sands pipeline & the "National Interest"

The multiple reasons to oppose granting a construction permit include an overriding national interest in forestalling the development of a major new fossil fuel source that will exacerbate global climatic disruption and undermine the transformation of the energy system to decarbonized sources.

More on why Keystone XL is not in the national or global interest

The State Department's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline environmental impact statement doesn’t include any scenario in which the U.S. comes anywhere close to meeting the Obama administration's climate goals. The study fails to disclose that its conclusions are only valid in the context of American and global climate policy failure.

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6 Responses to "Stand With Us Hillary" in opposing Keystone XL

  1. Fernando Leanme says:

    The Keystone XL pipeline will help increase Canadian heavy crude supply to the US Gulf Coast refineries. This will create competition with Venezuelan crude which has identical properties. From a strategic standpoint the US does benefit if the Canadian crude displaces a portion of the Venezuelan heavy oil, because Venezuela is ruled by dictator Nicolas Maduro, who abuses human rights and is a self declared enemy of the United States.

    Many who oppose the pipeline from Canada aren´t aware that identical crude is shipped from Venezuela. The two crude types are almost identical, and the Venezuelan reserves are estimated using thermal recovery methods copied from the Canadians.

    So why is it we see so much opposition to a pipeline from a democratic and law abiding nation, and instead we see a campaign which provides a commercial advantage to a state owned oil company from Venezuela and its multinational allies such as Chevron Texaco?

    Who is egging whom in what appears to be mostly a fight for the US Gulf Coast market between the Venezuelan dictatorship, it´s multinational allies, and Canadian producers?

    • Rick - Climate Science Watch says:

      Clearly there are multiple agendas running in the Keystone XL pipeline controversy. You appear to assume that there is a zero-sum trade-off between Canadian tar sands oil and Venezuelan heavy oil. Isn't it much more likely that, if the tar sands are developed, it will add to the total oil production rather than displace the Venezuelan oil? Both would be developed. You also appear to assume that the Canadian tar sands would add to a more secure U.S. oil supply. Isn't it much more likely that tar sands oil would be exported from the Gulf Coast refineries, whether to Asia or to Latin America?

      The U.S. movement opposing granting a permit for Keystone XL is not about choosing between Canada and Venezuela -- it's about attempting, in conjunction with allies in Canada, to prevent the tar sands from being developed altogether. This may be a losing battle, ultimately, but if so it will be society's loss, because it will imply that the U.S. and the world are unable to implement a policy to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. In order to do that, the great majority of recoverable fossil fuels will have to be left in the ground, as the result of explicit policy decisions to do so. If only a small fraction of the remaining recoverable reserves can be burned in order to keep global warming within an acceptable limit, the Canadian tar sands would not be among the most economical options for development. See:

      http://business.financialpost.com/2013/08/26/keystone-xls-impact-on-venezuela-oil-muted-by-waning-u-s-imports/?__lsa=869d-dd7b

      http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2014/03/16/more-on-why-kxl-is-not-in-national-or-global-interest/

      • Fernando Leanme says:

        So why not work to stop the Venezuelan heavy oil reserves from being developed altogether? The argument you make doesn´t seem logic. Let´s look at a barrel of Canadian oil in Houston. The market price for that oil is much higher in Houston (it already paid the price to get there). A competing barrel from Venezuela´s heavy oil fields either comes in and tries to displace the barrel from Canada, or it gets shipped elsewhere.

        Because the Venezuelan crude comes in by tanker, it makes more sense for that barrel never to be imported into Houston, and instead it will get shipped to China, India, or elsewhere.

        The Canadian shipper would have to pay a higher transport price from Houston to China (that´s because the trip to China usually goes via the Atlantic and Indian Ocean in super tankers).

        • Rick - Climate Science Watch says:

          Re: "So why not work to stop the Venezuelan heavy oil reserves from being developed altogether?"
          How would we do that?
          You should think this through in terms of the logic of political action. The U.S. government is not stopping, or even opposing, stepped up development of fossil fuels, either domestically or internationally. The pressure is coming from outside the government, from an activist climate movement. Movements need organizing 'handles' with which to make demands on government. For the climate movement, Keystone XL presented a remarkable opportunity because it required a permit from the U.S. government, and so, as a practical political matter, the President could either approve or deny it. Thus, pressure could be focused on a specific target, a specific decision point, with a specific demand. With the earlier momentum behind going ahead with the permit, for the movement to have nationalized the issue and made it so salient, and tied it up even this long, has taken a terrific amount of well-designed activism. That sort of campaign doesn't turn on a dime, though it now has mobilized a political consciousness and force that can be applied to other battles, e.g., coal and LNG exports, fracking. The KXL opposition, while focused on a specific decision, uses this campaign to raise much larger questions about global climate disruption, fossil fuel development, U.S. climate and energy policy. Where it is possible to develop new organizing handles with which to mobilize citizen activism around specific things (e.g., stopping a coal export terminal), those opportunities can be used.

          • Fernando Leanme says:

            If you focus on stopping the permit for a pipeline crossing the US border and ignore the tankers which arrive on a daily basis from Venezuela and other heavy oil suppliers then the effort is meaningless.

            I would also like to point the Canadians are unlikely to stop producing that oil merely because you stop a pipeline. There are technical means to turn that oil into syncrude, which can be exported via existing oil pipelines. There is also the train transport option. And when I look at the full system, any Canadian shortfalls will eventually be made up by the Venezuelans and other heavy oil producers (however, statistics show the overwhelming volume of super heavy oil or bitumen is found in Canada and Venezuela).

            In conclusion, I think this is a misguided effort, and I suspect it may be getting help from corporate entities which benefit if the line is stopped, for example the Venezuelan corporation PDVSA and its US subsidiary Citgo, Chevron Texaco and the Russian company Rosneft (partially owned by BP), which have large holdings in Venezuela (contrary to what has been stated, the Venezuelan oil industry wasn´t nationalized). Others who benefit are companies with refineries close to the Canadian border (which receive the cheaper Canadian crude), and the companies providing transportation by rail. I suspect this is more a chess game played between corporate and political interests, and the unsuspecting enviromental movement is used as a pawn.

            Do you want a more sensible idea? Lobby for a law which requires inspection ALL oil fields and the amount of emissions and pollution they cause. These inspections would then lead to certificates which express the actual emissions for a given load, and this in turn can be published. The public can then choose not to purchase products from companies purchasing high emissions crudes. Why do I propose this? Because some light oils are extremely emissions intensive, and this isn´t well known. For example, many light oils from Nigeria are produced by venting a huge amount of associated methane, and methane is an incredibly powerful greenhouse gas.

        • A Siegel says:

          Fernando,

          Your material is both quite intriguing and frustrating.

          Intriguing because of the valuable discussion of the implications of different types of crude and highlighting the associated externalized costs of different producers (such as the point re Nigerian production venting methane).

          Frustrating for a variety of reasons:

          - A form of conspiracy comment as to who might be funding anti-pipeline efforts. (FYI -- I could easily imagine a rail operator or some other business entities seeking to undermine/delay Keystone to increase their profitability. I have yet, however, to see evidence that this is occurring.)

          - Questionable assertion: That the tar sands will, in essence, be produced no matter what. Completing Keystone will greatly reduce the cost of getting tar sands crude to the world market and thus increase the value to the producer. Any business person looking at making investments will look to the marginal return -- Keystone greatly increases the ROI and lowers the risk for investing in boosting tar sands production. This is simply true. E.g., with Keystone increased tar sands production will be fostered and hindered without it.

          Great example of intriguing and frustrating is your "sensible idea" proposal.

          1. Independent inspection of fields -- cataloguing things like methane leaks (and providing tools to reduce them -- even profitably) -- is an interesting idea that, sadly, the industry would fight tooth and nail.

          2. Re 'fight tooth and nail', this inspection regime campaign would end up taking a long time and a lot of resources with only a small chance of success. And, this sort of legalistic approach is very hard to mobilize public understanding and support. That time and those resources are scarce and this likely is not a high return on investment use of them.

          3. Then, the turn to 'label it and let people make their own choice' is simply frustrating. Lets put this all on the individual consumer and let them make the choice. Huh ... sounds great, but as we see with obesity epidemic globally and food labeling, not really successful. I really imagine that people will pull into a gas station, see that the carbon content well-to-wheel at the station is higher then they like so they will pull out of the station and drive around to find somewhere where they might pay more money but will have a 1.37% reduction in the fuel carbon implication ... right.

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