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View Diary: KXL will carry as much carbon as all the cars on the West Coast, plus Michigan, NY, and Florida. (55 comments)

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  •  deconstructing the "won't matter" claim (6+ / 0-)

    State has 2 arguments on this.

    First, they argue that a NO on KXL won't matter, cause there's other ways to get the would-be pipeline content to refineries and therefore to tailpipes and smokestacks.

    Second, they argue that tar sands production, and even some expansion, isn't actually even a climate problem, pointing to an International Energy Agency report that has the tar sands expanding significantly, even with strongish climate policy (although there's a lot less expansion than in their weaker climate policy scenarios).

    Let's look at the second argument first. It's of note that State did not choose to point out that an MIT report instead shows no room for tar sands expansion, and production reducing rapidly, under strongish climate policy.

    Further, the IEA report explicitly assumes that growth in tar sands output is made possible by new technologies that reduce emissions.  If you assume that tar sands production (other fossil fuel use) will be able to cut emissions per unit of energy by a lot, well then, yes, there might be some room for continued production. But the notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills is irrational, and not a good basis for an environmental impact assessment. The MIT report in turn explicitly shows how sensitive the results are to this assumption.

    Neither report studies climate policy sufficient to give us an 80% chance of staying within globally agreed-upon climate limits.

    This brings us to the commonsensical conclusion that barring at-present speculative technological advances, there is no climate room for increasing current tar sands production, let alone increasing takeaway capacity (which currently exceeds production).

    At this point, we can go back and look at State's first point, the fatalistic assertion that a NO on KXL won't matter, cause there's all this other potential takeaway capacity. While a no on kxl would slow down expansion, the alternative potential takeaway capacity is indeed massive. But each alternative faces its own challenges.

    Further, it is bizarre to look at a hypothetical post-NOKXL decision world as one in which everything else is equal. If the United States executive branch finds that the Keystone XL pipeline is not in the national interest, the executive branch would presumably pursue additional policy measures coherent with an understanding that there is no climate room for the tar sands, with strong climate policy. This pursuit should greatly reduce the alternative potential takeaway capacity, not to mention count as a step toward international leadership on climate.

    The claim that a NO on KXL won't matter is based on speculative assumptions about new technologies that reduce emissions and a failure to consider tar sands projections under climate policy strong enough to give an 80% chance of staying within the 2 degree limit. These failures in analysis are the preconditions for the fatalistic framework that State uses to assess the effects of a NO on KXL.

    •  Thanks for the info (1+ / 0-)
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      I'm not being contrarian, I really haven't located a good counterpoint to the argument that alternative means of transport will allow nearly as much tar sands oil to reach market. They may also not involve the US at all. I get the point that KXL is a galvanizing event for the movement, but we don't look serious if it's not actually as a critical as we say.

      I'm in the northwest so I'm personally very concerned about the coal ports. They are years away, but I'm contacting the relevant officials here. I've been a donor to Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark and I've let him know where I stand. These ports will be terrible for our state just on increased traffic disruption and coal dust alone. The fact that we get blowback in terms of mercury pollution from China and increased carbon makes them completely untenable.

      There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

      by BeerNotWar on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 10:22:35 AM PDT

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