Yes, they really do have a political problem with this, and they know it. Time to ramp up the pressure, people. Write letters, make calls!
The State Department concluded in its final environmental assessment issued Friday that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not significantly alter global greenhouse gas emissions, but officials cautioned that they were still weighing whether or not to approve the project.
The report said that “approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States.”
The multi-billion dollar pipeline, which would transport heavy crude from oil sands from Canada’s Alberta province into the heart of the U.S. pipeline network, has become the focus of intense controversy. Foes say it will contribute to climate change and supporters say it will secure U.S. oil supplies from a friendly neighbor and create U.S. construction jobs.
The release of the long-awaited Final Environmental Impact Statement will trigger an avalanche of lobbying efforts aimed at Secretary of State John Kerry, who has made climate change a central focus of his career and will now begin deliberating on the pipeline decision.
The decision remains politically fraught for Democrats. Environmental activists fiercely oppose it, on the grounds that it could leak and spill oil in sensitive areas, accelerate development of the greenhouse gas-intensive oil sands in Alberta, and increase America’s dependence on fossil fuels.
The State Department’s report includes 11 volumes of analysis on how the proposed pipeline would affect heavy crude extraction in Canada’s oil sands, and reaches the same conclusion as its draft report did in March: no single infrastructure project will alter the course of oil development in Alberta.
But a senior State Department official, who asked not to be identified in order to discuss the report’s findings in advance of its release, said Friday the study “is only one factor that comes into the consideration” of whether to give TransCanada, a Calgary-based energy giant, a permit to build the pipeline.
“It does not answer the broader question about how a decision on this potential pipeline fits in with broader national and international efforts to address climate change and climate priorities or other questions of foreign policy or energy security,” the official said.