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There is an excellent diary on DKos by A. Siegel entitled "NYTimes should be embarrassed. Almost certainly isn't ..." I read it with great interest. It dissects a New York Times artricle written by Joe Nocera in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline. I read Mr. Nocera's article and was especially taken by this statement: "And the climate change effects of tar sands oil are, all in all, pretty small." I could not believe there was any support for such a brash statement. Turns out, if you follow his link, there isn't. I explain below.

Nocera's statement that the climate change effects of tar sands oil are "pretty small" links to a June 18 2012 Congressional Research Service Report to Congress, entitled, "Canadian Oil Sands: Life-Cycle Assessments of Greenhouse Gas Emissions." Turns out this is a really devious  article intended to deceive anyone who doesn't take the time to read it with care. Apparently Mr. Nocera was either one of the careless readers, or he is intentionally helping to spread the misleading information contained in that report. This analysis will take a little time, so please bear with me, I think it's worth it.

The report states that it is intended to address the issue of whether building the Keystone XL Pipeline will increase the emission of greenhouse gases, referred to in the report as "GHG emissions". The report is not an independent analysis of the issue, instead it reviews data from previous studies of the proposed pipeline.

The report contains a "Scope and Purpose" section which states that it compares publicly available assessments of greenhouse gas emissions data in order to address

congressional concern over the environmental impacts of Canadian oil sands production
including both
a broad understanding of the global resource as well as a specific assessment of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline...
The report states that it provides
tools for policymakers who are interested in using these assessments to investigate the potential impacts of U.S. energy policy choices on the environment.
So the report identifies its purpose as providing tools to assess the impact U.S. approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline would have on the environment. No limitation there, just very broadly, "the environment".

Next the report gives a detailed description of the various ways to measure total greenhouse gas emissions from a project like the Keystone XL Pipeline, the broadest being "well to wheel". This broad measure is meant to include all emissions resulting from the project, from extraction of the tar sands through treatment, transportation, refinement, and finally consumption (combustion in a gasoline engine). Other, shorter timelines necessarily exclude some of the emissions that would result from this project. Only "well to wheel" captures them all.

If you look at Figure 1 on page 3 of the report, you'll see other, shorter timelines. The only one of importance is "well to tank". That timeline includes all of the "well to wheel" timeline except for the last step of combustion in a gas engine. So the difference between "well to wheel" and "well to tank" is that the former includes consumption by the end-user and the latter does not.

Much later on, at page 9, Figure 2, the report has some interesting data that show "well to wheel" emission of greenhouse gases under different reports. These are supposed to be annual emissions. Notice that each bar has a blue section and a tan section. The smaller, blue section shows the "well to tank" emission of greenhouse gases. The larger tan section shows how much greenhouse gases are released through actual combustion in an engine. You can see that the amount of emissions released through combustion is two to three times the amount of emission released through the entire rest of the process. Burning the gas is what releases the most CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

The first bar in Figure 2 indicates the U.S. Average greenhouse gas emissions from oil production and consumption, based on a 2005 EPA estimate. The bar shows a total of 91 units of greenhouse gas emissions from "well to wheel" with 18 of those units coming from the "well to tank" part of the process (blue) and the last 73 units coming from the actual combustion of the gasoline (tan).

The next interesting part of Figure 2 is the part dealing with "SCO" (synthetic crude oil) and "Dilbit" (diluted bitumin). These are apparently the primary methods of extraction that would be used for the Canada tar sands. The six bars in each group - SCO and dilbit - supposedly show what six different studies have determined will be the annual greenhouse gases emitted if the XL pipeline is approved and those methods of extraction are used. In Dilbit they range from 103 units to 116 units per year, much more than the 91 units emitted from U.S. oil production and consumption. In SCO it's worse, 108 to 120 units per year.

Now comes a critical point, note how the tan sections of these SCO and Dilbit bars are almost identical, 73 to 75 units of greenhouse gas emissions resulting just from end-user consumption/combustion. And note how these numbers are almost identical to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from U.S. production based on the EPA 2005 figures. In other words, the actual combustion of the oil from the Canada tar sands results in the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come from the combustion of other sources of gasoline.

The difference between the U.S. 2005 average and the SCO/Dilbit" processes doesn't come from the final combustion, it comes from all the steps that lead to final combustion. These steps short of combustion are represented by the blue sections of the bars. See how they range from a low of 29 to a high of 46. If you throw out the 29 in Dilbit and the 33 in SCO as "outliers", they average to 41 units of emissions per year through these methods of extraction, treatment, refinement and transportation. Compare that to the U.S. average of 18 (in the blue section of the U.S. average bar) and you can see that the process of removing, refining and transporting oil extracted from tar sands results in much more greenhouse gas emissions than the same steps involved with other sources of oil.

So what does this report do with this information? What does it say about the impact of "U.S. energy policy choices on the environment"? It completely sidesteps the issue of the impact on the environment and instead focuses on the impact on the "U.S. Carbon Footprint for the Keystone XL Pipeline". This is the name of the penultimate section of the report. At the bottom of page 25, the report concludes that if the Keystone XL Pipeline is approved, the total greenhouse gas emissions produced by the U.S. would increase by only .06% to 0.3%. But by doing this, the report intentionally ignores all the extra greenhouse gases that will be produced in Canada if the pipeline is approved. The report stated that its purpose was to analyze "the potential impacts of U.S. energy policy choices on the environment". But you cannot analyze the impact on the "environment" if you ignore what would be produced in Canada. You cannot give a fair assessment of environmental impact when you ignore the location where all the increase in greenhouse gases will occur.

One sidenote, although the increase in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions is small compared to increased emissions from Canada, it would still be significant. The report states that it would be equal to an extra half a million to 4 million passenger cars on the road. At a time when our greenhouse gas emissions should be decreasing, any such increase should be unacceptable.

And now back to Mr. Nocera. He cites this study as the only support for his statement that "...the climate change effects of tar sands oil are, all in all, pretty small." Just like the study itself, he takes data indicating a small increase in U.S. greenhouse gases emissions, ignores a huge increase in Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, and proclaims that we have nothing to worry about from the Keystone XL Pipeline, the environment won't be any worse off. False, false, false. And I bet he knows it.

EDIT On the subject of "won't the tar sands be developed even if the pipeline is not approved?", that is an assumption made in the Congressional Research Service Report. At the bottom of page 1 and continuing onto page 2, the report states:

In the Final EIS, DOS supported the claim that while the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project may contribute to certain transboundary and continental scale environmental impacts, it may not substantially influence either the rate or magnitude of oil extraction activities in Canada or the overall volume of crude oil transported to and refined in the United States.
However, buried in footnote 6 the report admits the following:
Several of the studies, however, question this finding, and in particular, whether the production of Canadian oil sands crude would be economically viable if not exported through pipelines to the United States. See, for example, Natural Resources Defense Council, “Say No to Tar Sands Pipeline,” March 2011, at http://www.nrdc.org/....
I haven't read the article referred to in the footnote, but it is my understanding that extracting and processing oil from the tar sands is very expensive per unit of oil retrieved, more expensive than drilling in the ocean. The only way that oil from the tar sands can compete with other oil is if it can be delivered cheaply through a pipeline. If it had to be shipped in tankers it could not compete with oil drilled from the ocean. So I don't believe it is a given that the tar sands would still be exploited without the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Originally posted to tonymil on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 05:22 PM PST.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And since most of the Keystone XL Oil will be (11+ / 0-)

    burned in China, Nocera should know better.

    We will never be free from fear as long as we fear the NRA.

    by captainlaser on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 05:25:43 PM PST

    •  where is your support for that? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fishgrease

      when people say Keystone is for exporting oil they are referring to exports from Canada to the US. If the Canadians want ot sell to China they have proposed a pipeline to BHC for that.

    •  I keep seeing this. (3+ / 0-)

      And when I ask for a source, I'm given some other article that just says it without a source.

      The Gulf ports themselves are currently exporting refined product right at their full capacity WITHOUT THE KXL OIL. Add "most of the Keystone XL Oil" and that means a huge upgrade of that capacity that would in fact take longer to complete than the pipeline itself.

      There's no such upgrades of export capacity in the works. No one has even talked about doing it. So how can "most of the Keystone XL Oil" end up being burned in China or anywhere else besides right here?

      You provide no proof for your assertion AND on it's face, it defies logic.

      There are plenty of valid reasons to be against KXL, including that you're against all oil pipelines or that the GOP is for it so you're against it. I'm drawn to that latter one myself.

      But they should be real reasons, not rumored data like "most of the Keystone XL Oil will be burned in China" that has no basis in fact and is easily disproved by just looking at current export capacity.

      It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

      by Fishgrease on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 02:47:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  See Harper's own words.... (0+ / 0-)

        above.

        We will never be free from fear as long as we fear the NRA.

        by captainlaser on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 03:10:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Harper doesn't export oil (0+ / 0-)

          The oil would be sold to and transported to a refining company on our Gulf Coast. THEY would then do any exporting from there.

          Harper doesn't export oil. The KXL Pipeline can't export oil.

          So how's all this oil going to be burned in China?

          It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

          by Fishgrease on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 03:23:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your kidding correct? (3+ / 0-)

            Harper says that his main goal is to sell this to China.  If the crude is loaded on the gulf and shipped to China for refining makes the most sense as then China will also get the by products from the XL crude.  Either way you cut it, America takes the risk and the money boys sell the crude to China.  Does not look like a good deal to this old soldier.

            •  No I'm not kidding. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lujane, LakeSuperior

              Just because it's been repeated 10,000 times by anti-KXL folks doesn't make it true.

              1. There are no means of exporting this amount of crude oil from Gulf Ports. Nearly all the exports from there will be refined product.

              2. Exports of refined product from Gulf ports are currently at or close to capacity.

              There's not even any plans to greatly increase refining capacity! What WILL happen is that those refineries will accept fewer imports via the ports (from the Saudis, Venezuela, Nigeria, etc). Simple math. That will happen.

              Now, since fewer tankers unloading in the Gulf will open port space, they will flip some of those around for export, but because of finite refinery capacity this will be a very small portion of the oil transported by KXL.

              I've fought with myself over bringing this stuff up on Daily Kos. Why should I care if I see rumor presented as fact here, time after time? Here's why:

              Obama will approve the pipeline. He and Kerry are looking at real numbers, not internet rumor. Obama should not be criticized on the basis of anything but facts. Not and have us then pretend to be a reality-based community.

              It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

              by Fishgrease on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 03:57:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Point is ... (2+ / 0-)

                that heavy crude imports from Venezuela are going to be dropping.  The DilBit will replace the Venezuelan crude.  The Venezuelan crude is the basis for much that refined export, no?

                Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                by A Siegel on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:44:32 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  No. The point is that we keep seeing (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  LakeSuperior

                  pure rumor represented as fact. And that keeps going unchallenged. So when Kerry and Obama give the go-ahead, the Obama administration will be blamed for things that will never happen.

                  This is the problem with all leaderless movements, I guess, including the climate-change deniers and the anti-immunization crowd. No fact checkers.

                  We don't know what effect KXL will have upon exports except that it will be a small effect, certainly initially. It will be mixed with a lot of other oils so that the effect upon export/import will be shared between Montana, North Dakota AND tar sands oil.

                  What you will not see is batches of similar crude both coming into, and leaving a port on a regular basis. Inefficiencies like that cut into profit and people get fired when they're discovered.

                  It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

                  by Fishgrease on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 11:56:58 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Harper doesn't say that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LakeSuperior

          most of the Keystone XL Oil will be burned in China. You say that. Why?

          It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

          by Fishgrease on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 03:36:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'll tell you what. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            liamladdieo

            Here's his email.

            pm@pm.gc.ca

            You tell him he doesn't have the authority to make oil contracts with China.  

            Why do you think once the oil is in the pipeline it belongs to Keystone?  Why, by using a pipeline, do you think that oil companies in Alberta have to sell to a refiner?  That is really naive.

            His alternative is to build the Northern Pipeline to BC.  There is no plan that I've seen to build a refinery in Northern BC.  Just an oil port.  They'll just sell crude.  Or refine it in Alberta.  Either way, the Northern Pipeline is a real environmental disaster with concomitant damage to Native Indian lands.  He already changed the Environmental Protection Act to ride roughshod over environmental concerns and then this year put in bill C-35 the right to tell aboriginals that he can require a pipeline to go through their lands.   This man is serious about selling oil and he is a spokesman for Alberta Oil Companies.

            This whole disaster started in 2002 when Cheney went to the Oil Patch in Canada and told them he would get the XL pipeline through.   I would love to see the transcript of that meeting and what he promised, but we will never get it.

            We will never be free from fear as long as we fear the NRA.

            by captainlaser on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 04:06:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The China stuff had nothing, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              LakeSuperior

              NOTHING to do with KXL. That was all the alternative, if KXL wasn't built, which you are correct in saying probably wouldn't be built even if KXL was rejected.

              There's huge problems shipping this stuff as crude. Canada won't do it. the USA won't do it.

              If KXL is built (and it will be) then China will get the oil from the Saudis, Venezuela, Nigeria, Russia, etc that is currently helping fill refineries on our Gulf Coast.

              Yes China will still be burning oil. It won't be oil from the KXL pipeline.

              It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

              by Fishgrease on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 04:16:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Look ... there is lots of material (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nightsweat, radical simplicity

        on this out there.

        Just try googling:

        Platt's analyst:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/...

         

        What’s more important is this will ensure the Canadian crudes get onto the global stage,” Esa Ramasamy, editorial director of Americas oil market reporting with Platts, told a Calgary conference hosted by Platts this week.
        Oil analyst http://news.nationalgeographic.com/...
        Verleger is arguing that the United States cannot escape the reality of living in a global oil market. Getting Canadian oil to the Texas Gulf Coast would put it onto ships bound for Asia, he predicted. He calls it a "Tar Sands Road to China," a play on the famous Silk Road that moved Asian goods to Western markets for 3,000 years. Although it's a long, tortuous route to ship oil through the Gulf of Mexico and around Africa's Cape of Good Hope or South America's Cape Horn, economics will favor this journey to the Far East, he contends. The bottom line for Verleger is that refineries on the Gulf Coast have long-term commitments to buy oil from current suppliers—including Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Mexico. Those nations don't want to cede market share to Canada. All three have ownership in Texas refineries, and they can also match any discount that comes with the Canadian crude. "There will be too much oil, it's got to go somewhere, and it's going to China," Verleger says.
        Pembina:  http://www.pembina.org/...  

        ...

        Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

        by A Siegel on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:43:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not difficult to find an "expert" who'll agree (0+ / 0-)

          with anything you like.

          But Verleger, an independent economist who in the past served as an energy policy adviser to the U.S. Treasury and the Council of Economic Advisers, is known for his sometimes contrarian views.
          On can, for instance, find climate scientists who say human-caused climate change is a fraud. Those are also "contrarian views".

          So what do we do? We go with the consensus. Here the consensus does not agree with Philip Verleger.

          Is there a kernel of truth? Sure. Always is. Are there some molecules of tar sands oil that will find their way to China? Yes. So what. It will never be the greater amount, certainly never ALL, which is the comment I was responding to.

          The anti-KXL movement has invested so much in stopping this one pipeline that this has become the ultimate contest. It's Obama or Them. This became true when McKibben spouted off about Obama bowing to the Oil Barrons and that was slim months before a Presidential Election. He thought he could pressure The President into making a decision before the election. Cheap move. He placed his bet. He lost.

          President Obama's approval rating will not slip 1% once he makes this call. Why? Because the majority of the population will support the truth. That truth is that while tar sands definitely are a step in the wrong direction, they are a small step. When Kerry talks to the Canadians about their undo contribution to climate change, they say, hey, coal-fired power plants in the US generate 30-times more emissions than the entire Canadian oil sands industry. Why aren't all these Americans protesting those?

          Which is a pretty good question.

          It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

          by Fishgrease on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:21:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Also, too (0+ / 0-)
          The Keystone XL pipeline, Verleger argues, could transform the U.S. Gulf Coast into the most profitable refining center in the world.
          Oh fuck me IT ALREADY IS AND HAS BEEN FOR MORE THAN A DECADE!

          Unless you don't include taxes in your definition of profit, as in pre-tax profit which is yet another method of obfuscation.

          AND which begs the question, "If all these other refining centers have to pay higher taxes, why don't those on the Gulf Coast?

          Which is another very good question. There's a simple answer: The GOP Governors of Louisiana and Texas. They cannot control Federal Taxes, however, so that's a very incomplete answer.

          It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

          by Fishgrease on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:06:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Yep Even 1 New Net Molecule of Atmospheric Carbon, (12+ / 0-)

    anywhere on earth, increases injury to us all.

    The planet's full. Unlike smoke or most other pollution, it doesn't matter where in the world the emission is.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 05:28:15 PM PST

    •  A more ideal example of how smart financing (0+ / 0-)

      to facilitate green energy development and the conversion to it from fossil fuel extraction and consumption could and should be used to not only save the planet, but bring overall costs down (especially the vast external costs of fossil fuels), I cannot think of. I don't care if it'll cost a trillion dollars, it'll be worth it even on purely financial terms in the long run.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:48:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Willful ignorance, (12+ / 0-)

    unless Nocera thinks CO2 can't penetrate political boundaries.  In which case, he should sell hot dogs.

    "And now we know that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob." -- FDR

    by Mogolori on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 06:36:00 PM PST

  •  But if the Keystone XL pipeline is not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theotherside

    constructed, it will not stop extraction of tar sands oil in Canada.  Isn't that the point?  So in that sense, the net effect of building the pipeline would be minimal and incremental.  No?

    The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

    by helfenburg on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 03:25:14 AM PST

    •  That is the assumption of Nocera's analysis (8+ / 0-)

      and it may, or may not, be an accurate assumption.  The amount of wealth that the tar sands represents to the people of Canada is immense and it will be extremely to voluntarily give up.

      A review of history would show that this is almost never done and so it is likely that the tar sands will be developed anyway.  However, there are those of us who would like to make history and stick up for future generations and make this assumption an inaccurate one.

      But we can't do it alone and there are too many of us sitting on the sidelines.  Hopefully that too will change.

      We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

      by theotherside on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 04:52:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It will slow it at the very least (7+ / 0-)

      And Canada has an environmental movement as well, we need to support them if we're going to make it through this. We must be a global movement.

    •  The faster that oil is developed, the faster CO2 (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, DBunn, PeteZerria, AoT, tacet, mrkvica

      will be emitted.

      Any action that slows development of the tar sands will not only slow the rate of atmospheric CO2 absorption, but also buy time for Canadians to get their act together & boot the Conservatives & Harper from office.  Think of them as the Bush Administration of the North in terms of oil policy; think of Alberta as their Texas.  Harper was born in Toronto, but his economic conservative inclinations led him to sympathize with Alberta, primarily because opposition to Trudeau's (Liberal Party) National Energy Program.

      Oil development is Harper's #1 item.  He won't be stopped on this; he's determined to impose Alberta's will on all of Canada as revenge for their "Eastern intrusion" in "Alberta's business."  Does any of this sound at all familiar?

    •  There is no such thing as a stranded asset. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, A Siegel

      All markets are infinitely fungible and unconstrained. If no pipeline is built they will simply teleport the oil directly to your gas tank. They want the pipeline just because.

      •  Just because they will avoid taxes (6+ / 0-)

        if they shp through Port Arthur, Texas.

        "•Keystone XL is an export pipeline. The Port Arthur, Texas, refiners at the end of its route are focused on expanding exports to Europe, and Latin America. Much of the fuel refined from the pipeline’s heavy crude oil will never reach U.S. drivers’ tanks.
         •Valero, the key customer for crude oil from Keystone XL, has explicitly detailed an export strategy to its investors. Because Valero’s Port Arthur refinery is in a Foreign Trade Zone, the company can carry out its strategy tax-free.
          In a shrinking U.S. market, Keystone XL is not needed. Since the project was announced, the oil industry acknowledges that higher fuel economy standards and slow economic growth mean declining U.S. oil demand, even as domestic production is booming. Oil from Keystone XL will therefore displace American crude from new, “unconventional” domestic fields in Texas or North Dakota."
        http://priceofoil.org/...
         

        The power of the Occupy movement is that it ....realizes a fundamental truth about American politics… there is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs.

        by orson on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 09:04:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  No. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, happymisanthropy, mrkvica

      As pointed out in comments above, the alternate transport route, pipeline to British Columbia, is a fake threat. The terrain is too harsh, the cost of the BC pipeline would be enormous.

      No route, no transport.
      No transport, no sale.
      No sale, no profit.
      No profit, no extraction.

      "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

      by nosleep4u on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 09:39:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I really think that some effort (0+ / 0-)

      in this "conversation" should be directed to the impact of tar sands oil on the deterioration of the pipe lines that carry it and the resulting pollution of the land over which the pipe lines are built.  I cannot remember a citation, but there are many pipelines in the US (northern tier states?) that currently carry tar sands oil to US refineries that have reported serious issues in this regard.

      "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please" Mark Twain

      by andersr on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:05:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      See here on Keystone XL impacts (for example) ...

      The tar sands industry has proposed expansion plans that would triple production by 2030 which would lead to an increase in carbon emissions to over 900 MMT by 2030. This growth requires a massive expansion of capacity to transport tar sands oil.  But as NRDC outlines, the tar sands industry’s production targets would necessitate the construction of every new pipeline currently proposed plus millions of barrels worth of additional transport capacity.  The Keystone XL pipeline is an absolutely necessary step for tar sands expansion, and given current pipeline capacity constraints is also significant as the first test of whether such expansion can move forward.  In other words, Keystone XL would enable a significant amount of tar sands expansion that otherwise would not occur.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 07:00:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this analysis tonymil (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tonymil, PeteZerria

    I learned a lot.

    I was disappointed in the Nocera column myself. He isn't all bad, though, his book on the financial meltdown with Bethany McLean was very good.

  •  That was a helpful breakdown (9+ / 0-)

    of the data, thanks!

    With that said, there is a basic difference in assumption between people like Nocera and most of us here.  He assumes that the tar sands will be developed regardless of whether we build the pipeline in the US.  Under that assumption, he, is, largely correct.  The US approval of the pipeline will create very small increases in US carbon output.

    And that is why Obama may eventually approve the pipeline.  IF, the tar sands are going to be developed, then we would be foolish to NOT build the pipeline.  The boost to our economy would be worth the relatively small increase in carbon pollution.  If you then throw the environmentalists a bone (carbon tax, a stronger Renewable Energy Portfolio, etc.) then he might think he is making a reasonable deal.

    As a person who circled the White House in the Keystone protest last year and who braved the cold and the wind on Sunday, I would like to think that if we can reject the pipeline here and the Canadian environmentalists and First Nation groups can kill the West Coast pipeline, then the whole project can be cancelled/curtailed and the carbon can stay in the ground for awhile longer.  That would change the political/carbon calculus and could push Obama in the "right" direction.

    Should be interesting to see what happens with Keystone and the EPA regulating carbon.

    We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

    by theotherside on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 04:46:32 AM PST

    •  The Tar Sands development plans (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      require Keystone XL + all the other proposed pipelines.  See here for excellent analysis/discussion: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/...

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 07:01:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  competitive with ... Coal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      Indeed, this writeup was a good guide to the report.  Figure 2 kindof says it all:
      - burning the gas releases the same GHG whatever the source
      - tar sands gas will release 11% to 28% more GHG than classical oil well oil
      - the extra is all extraction and refinement, 50% more to 150% more GHG emissions for that than regular extraction & refinement

      If you've always assumed that GHG emissions are no problem, like a lot of the US does, esp the deniers, then Keystone XL is no problem.  

      But if you live in Joplin, MO, New Orleans, or NYC, you know it is a problem.  Or if you're a middle-america farmer, or resident of a tinderbox area, or a third world country.  Or a pacific atoll.  Or...

      Figures 3 and 4 are also informative; Figure 4 tells us that tar sands are competitive with ... Coal.  In some cases, emitting MORE GHG than Coal.

  •  I thought NYT's worst error of the week... (6+ / 0-)

    ... was the lede narrative-framer on the climate change protests:  Essentially that President Obama has a tough choice between angering environmental advocates and angering Canada.

    President Obama faces a knotty decision in whether to approve the much-delayed Keystone oil pipeline: a choice between alienating environmental advocates who overwhelmingly supported his candidacy or causing a deep and perhaps lasting rift with Canada.
    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    This is just lazy and superficial -- it frames the debates as a battle of special interests.

    In my opinion, the battle over Canadian tar sands is much more elemental:  it's people vs. physics.

    Physics will win that battle unless people change the way we use carbon and unless we leave much of our "reserves" in the ground.  Physics is clear that a hothouse planet will result if we burn those reserves.

    I think it's worth noting that it seems to be the same John M. Broder who wrote the misleading Tesla article and the lazily framed articles on the climate change protests.

    •  nuclear (0+ / 0-)

      Unless we decide to collapse our economy, do you see any viable alternative other than nuclear?  Solar is not yet ready for prime time--and fossil will destroy the planet.

      Apres Bush, le deluge.

      by melvynny on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 06:07:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nuclear isn't ready: (4+ / 0-)

        The lead time on building nuclear plants, the brief productive life of a nuclear plant vs the long shutdown time, the risks of a more radioactive environment, all make nuclear a non-starter. In fact, distributed solar and wind work fine and are here today.

        •  scale (0+ / 0-)

          Distributed solar and wind are not ready for prime time--if they were, they would overtake fossil fuels immediately.

          Apres Bush, le deluge.

          by melvynny on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 06:34:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Did you see this diary? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JeffW

            http://www.dailykos.com/... .  Wind is cheaper than new-construction coal, and photovoltaic solar is only slightly more expensive than (new construction) coal in some places and is less expensive in others.  Wind IS ready for prime time, and PV solar is nearly there.  And they are beginning to overtake fossil fuels for electrical generation.  Coal power is cheaper than wind only if the coal is being burned in an old plant that has already had it's construction loans paid off.

            Transportation is the problem.  Nearly all transportation fuel is oil.  Electricity can't yet compete against oil for transportation; electric transport requires either trolley wires or batteries, neither of which are as flexible and easy to use as gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel.  Lots of smart people are working on this, but who knows when they will find answers?

            Renewable energy brings national global security.     

            by Calamity Jean on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:07:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Solar is ready (7+ / 0-)

        I wish people would advance their calendars past 1995.  Honestly.   Solar is hitting grid parity all over the place and private investors are spending billions to build massive solar plants throughout the West.  A big chunk  of my power I get from my utility is solar.  ALL of it is renewable.  We could build an entirely non carbon electricity grid if we invested in it.

        Mostly this is a fossil fuel industry talking point.  

        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

        by Mindful Nature on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 06:39:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  disagree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock

    Again I shall disagree.  The easy oil extraction worldwide has been pretty much exhausted, all newer sources of fossil fuels will be dirtier--and all sources will find their way to market.  Canada is talking about a new pipeline to its Pacific coast--so if we say no to Keystone, we are only changing the location of the pipeline.
    The other point is all extraction is dirty--we protest here because it is in our backyard--so Republican.  If we were serious about eliminating extra pollution, we would tax the shit out of all fossil fuels.  We would also understand that nuclear energy is necessary--and must be done safely--which will add costs--but not air pollution.  This is not a good solution--there is none--but it gives us time to develop other means of energy production, and delivery.
    BTW--anything that cuts energy consumption, or increases its cost, harms the economy.  If this isn't worldwide, it makes the "good" countries suffer the most.  

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 05:54:15 AM PST

    •  I disagree with most of what you wrote, but (7+ / 0-)

      especially this:

      BTW--anything that cuts energy consumption, or increases its cost, harms the economy.  If this isn't worldwide, it makes the "good" countries suffer the most.

      Increasing energy efficiency cuts energy consumption but does not harm the economy. Moving from non-renewables to renewables like wind and solar cuts consumption of the non-renewable energy but does not harm the economy. Investing in mass transit and re-thinking urban and suburban planning cuts energy consumption but does not harm the economy. And a country that does all  these things while other countries don't actually improves its position relative to those other countries. Germany's move toward wind power is an excellent example of that.

    •  Nuclear ain't carbon-free (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leftcandid, AoT, mrkvica

      http://www.nature.com/...

      According to Sovacool's analysis, nuclear power, at 66 gCO2e/kWh emissions is well below scrubbed coal-fired plants, which emit 960 gCO2e/kWh, and natural gas-fired plants, at 443 gCO2e/kWh. However, nuclear emits twice as much carbon as solar photovoltaic, at 32 gCO2e/kWh, and six times as much as onshore wind farms, at 10 gCO2e/kWh. "A number in the 60s puts it well below natural gas, oil, coal and even clean-coal technologies. On the other hand, things like energy efficiency, and some of the cheaper renewables are a factor of six better. So for every dollar you spend on nuclear, you could have saved five or six times as much carbon with efficiency, or wind farms," Sovacool says. Add to that the high costs and long lead times for building a nuclear plant about $3 billion for a 1,000 megawatt plant, with planning, licensing and construction times of about 10 years and nuclear power is even less appealing.
      •  This is only because of legacies (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melvynny

        For example using fossil fuels to mine and process.  If you used nuclear powered electricity, that carbon use would vanish.  Same for renewables

        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

        by Mindful Nature on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 06:42:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

          •  Lol (0+ / 0-)

            The tea party grade willfull ignorance.  Never heard of electric motors?  Just what do you think it would require that cant be done?

            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

            by Mindful Nature on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:06:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ever heard of reality? (0+ / 0-)

              - What proportion of uranium mining and processing equipment is powered by source-indepent electricity?
              - Where, geographically, is that mining and processing equipment located and what are their incentive structures?
              - What is the total cost of converting that "legacy" equipment to electricity?

              •  Reality is so pesky. (0+ / 0-)

                And inhibits these conversations.

                •  Which explains why (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  oldhippie, AoT, melvynny

                  Some folks want to ignore it and pretend all technological advancement stopped in 1995

                  Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

                  by Mindful Nature on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 09:31:03 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  This is totally the wrong question (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                melvynny

                We know that current practice is terrible and relies on old technologies, because that is what was available.  Bu to argue that conversion is impossible because it hasn't happened is like arguing in 1992 that cell phones will never spread because so few people have them!

                Instead lets look at where we are and what can be done.  We have right now all or most of the technologies in production to perform all the requisite tasks with electricity and electric motors instead is fossil fuel ones.  Then it is only a matter of the transition to use these.   If we were to only replace equipment with electric equipment going forward, then the transition is done once all equipment is replaced.  The cost is the marginal increase of cost for the electric analogies minus the savings from operation.   Of course many companies will choose cheaper equipment that costs more to run even over the long term. So, it really isn't a question of whether a pure electric supply chain can be  implemented right now. We have the technology to do so in use currently.  Instead, it is whether we have the political will to force the change where we are faced with market failure due to fossil fuel subsidies.  Since the entrenched players resist that, it will be tough.   However, that's a political obstacle not a technological one

                I get very frustrated with the common ignorance of what is actually in existence right now as technologies, especially when it is used to argue that nothing can be done.  

                Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

                by Mindful Nature on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 09:39:52 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Unless you have numbers (0+ / 0-)

              to back up your assertions I wouldn't be tossing out insults like "Tea party" so readily.

              •  Sure (0+ / 0-)

                All I asserted is that what is done by fossil fuels now can be done by electricity (from any source including nuclear) in the near term or today

                For example, in mining, much energy is used for hauling loads and earthmoving.  Large loads can clearly be moved by electric vehicles for example eletric semi trucks are under development now, being built as of three years ago, and are deployed in test runs  at the port of LA. there are also hybrid electric earth movers, and Siemens has gotten into buildimg large electric motors for full electrics. That's just from a quick google search to find actual companies building actual machines from the past six years.  It is not hard to find.

                Certainly, any other kinds of systems can be similarly powered, especially stationary facilities.  This, powering a mine and processing facility with electricity is NOT science fiction, but rather possible given existing or near term available technologies.  Thus, my claim that the life cycle carbon emissions from nuclear clearly can be reduced if not eliminated if the entire process can be so powered .  The case that a full electric mining and processing process has a lot more support than was offered for the proposition that it is impossible ("science fiction") which was precisely no evidence I might point out.  In fact, sucha proposition is only tenable if one ignores the advances that are occurring right now

                Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

                by Mindful Nature on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 11:32:12 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Surely you wouldn't say that efficiency increases (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tacet, mrkvica

      that cut consumption would harm the economy.  You would also surely have to agree, even if unwillingly, that an unsustainable energy model might propel an economy in the short term, but suicide it in the longer term.

      And surely you'd recognize that this diary's main point is that development of tar sands that are thousands of miles from our backyards is what will generate a sharp, perhaps unrecoverable increase in atmospheric CO2 (as well as local ecological devastation, but if Alberta wishes to shit in its own yard, sure, we can't do much about that).  

      Less surely, you might recognize that it is only the current Canadian Conservative government that is hellbent on tar sands development as the primary energy strategy ithout regard to environmental costs down the road.  This is an Alberta agenda being imposed on Canada via a party that is in control only because the moderate liberal majority is in disarray, & was prevented from toppling Harper & the Cons a few years ago by the intervention of the Governor General at the time, Michelle Jean.  

      I sympathize with your pragmatic inclinations, but the longer view must dominate short term concerns on these issues.  This is no arena for incrementalism alone, nor for defeatism.  The stakes are too high.
       

    •  Not all is created equal (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melvynny, Leftcandid, AoT

      Most oil is less carbon intensive than the sands.  Hard to get at and dangerous, yes, but nowhere near as carbon intensive

      And if all oil gets to market then human civilization is done.  Stick a fork in it put you head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 06:48:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

        We're done--the technology will lose to the politics--what could be done, won't be.  Entrenched interests like the Koch brothers insure our demise.

        Apres Bush, le deluge.

        by melvynny on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 06:56:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrkvica

          We have to try.  A lot of people thought Hitler would win and slavery would never end. But I appreciate the explanation

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:04:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  did? (0+ / 0-)

            Did slavery really end?  Discrimination and subjugation have continued--as have feelings of superiority and the flying of the Confederate flag.  As for Hitler--notice the rise of neo-Nazi parties throughout Europe.  Hate and greed were the things religion was supposed to eliminate--yet it hasn't worked out as planned.  Often times the enemy hides behind the cleric--or is the cleric.

            Apres Bush, le deluge.

            by melvynny on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:12:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AmericanAnt

              Yes, slavery is illegal in the US having been abolished in 1865 and Hitler is no longer in power in Germany and his party is repudiated and illegal there.  

              But, yes, there will always be dead enders and deniers who don't believe in climate change any more than they believe in evolution or that the earh is round or the the Apollo missions went to the moon. I don't think however that those examples are particularly relevant to mainstream events or should be taken as a model for action

              Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

              by Mindful Nature on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 11:12:19 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Well, then you can just see your way (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          happymisanthropy, mrkvica

          out of this and other threads about stopping climate from now on then.  I'm personally going to start treating the doomers just like deniers from now on.  If you aren't interested in helping stop this then shut the hell up because you're not saying or doing anything useful.

          •  serious (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, mrkvica

            Wanna get serious--and save the planet?  Then we need to hit the streets, block the roads, disrupt.  We need militancy-- and that doesn't go over big at dkos.  Petitions don't do anything.  Ranting online accomplishes nothing.  Winning elections has gotten the planet zilch.  I'm not a doomer, but acting alone is foolish--and I'm old.  We need to have college kids rioting--not looking to work at Goldman/Sachs.

            Apres Bush, le deluge.

            by melvynny on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 09:54:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, let's keep consuming, since that's what fuel (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica

      s the "economy." And hey, the only choice is, ineluctably now, of course, by simple inspection, nukular power, since that lets us keep on doing what we've been doing with the least possible, er, sacrifice.

      Forget that stuff about how wind and solar seem to be "taking off," with just minimal encouragement and as much or maybe more right to expect that technology advancements (sic) will make them even more "competitive" as the proponents of nukular just trust and believe, against some interesting history. And heaven forbid that "good" countries, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean, be suckers enough to try to keep us all from cooking our own golden geese when, after all, CHINA!.

      Because there's such good evidence that "we" will take advantage of the "time" we would I guess gain by going full bore on nukular, which it takes how long to get a nuke plant more or less safely on line, again?, to like you know develop other means of energy productioin. And of course XL is inevitable, all extration is dirty, etc.

      "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

      by jm214 on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:22:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Absolutely false points here (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      This is absolutely false:

      anything that cuts energy consumption, or increases its cost, harms the economy.
      Evidently wasting energy is better than energy efficiency?  

      US electricity use could be cut by about 20-25% w/in a decade for an aggregate cost of about 4 cents / kWh or about 40% of the average cost for a kWh around the country.  Doing that would be bad because?  

      RMI has (along with others) found similar price differentials for energy efficiency in oil-based transportation.  We shouldnt promote more fuel efficient transportation?

      Clearly, the German economy -- which pays much higher electricity and fuel prices -- is suffering horridly due to those higher energy costs.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 07:05:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  extraction & refinement are more CO2 intensive (0+ / 0-)

    for tar sands oil but you have not refuted Nocera's point that overall, from extraction to consumption tar sands oil result in 10-20% more GHG emissions.  And that includes CO2 emitted both in Canada & the US.  We can argue over whether that 10-20% is a small increase or not, but Nocera's is the correct comparison of conventionl oil to non tar sands oil GHG impact.

    That the 10-20% increase stems from the more energy intensive extraction process stage is notable, however it is not surprising.  Nor is it surprising that chopping off the consumption end  & comparing just the tar sands extraction/refinement stage with its conventional counterpart yields a scarier bar chart comparison.  Nevertheless, at the end of the day recovery & use of tar sands oil results in 1.1-1.2 times the amount of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere.  Nocera correctly summarized the data in the study to provide bottom line GHG impacts.

    •  Where are you getting your info? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happymisanthropy

      I don't see where there is any statement in the Nocera article that I linked to and that A. Siegel linked to  that extracting oil from the tar sands would increase greenhouse gas emissions by 10-20%. All I see is the general statement,

      And the climate change effects of tar sands oil are, all in all, pretty small.
      Are you referring to a different article by Nocera? If so, please provide a link.
      •  I read Nocera's article & followed link (0+ / 0-)

        that was on the words "pretty small." It led to the study discussed in this diary.

        •  But the point of that article, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          happymisanthropy

          and the reason Nocera cited it, is it's conclusion that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions will only increase by .06% to .3%. Yes, the article sets forth a lot of data from a number of studies. Yes, that includes the following single line in the long list of reference material:

          Canadian oil sands crudes are on average somewhat more GHG emission-intensive than the crudes they would displace in U.S. refineries, as Well-to-Wheel GHG emissions are, on average, 14%-20% higher for Canadian oil sands crude than for the weighted average of transportation fuels sold or distributed in the United States.
          However, the report does not adopt that finding and makes no finding about overall increase in greenhouse gas emissions - even though its stated intention is to guide Congress in the impact approving the Keystone XL Pipeline would have "on the environment."
          •  I've long been curious about the C02 impact (0+ / 0-)

            of tar sands oil v. conventional oil.  How much more would a unit of tar sands oil add to CO2 in the atmosphere compared to conventional.  The study states 1.1-1.2 times more.

            That's all I am saying. The point of the article may be the increase in US emissions but the more important number to me is the 1.1-1.2. I think the study does conclude this based on citations to a number of other studies.

            James Hansen has a nice post on HuffPo today arguing for internalizing the costs of GHG emissions via carbon tax.  Economically that makes sense.  I believe Hanson implies that if that were done Keystone would not be built as a result of economics.  I am not so sure but internalizing any costs that businesses, energy or otherwise, are allowed to socialize is nearly always a good thing in my view.

            •  Oil is oil (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tonymil

              Oil production, processing and refining actually does produce a lot of
              CO2, 85% of all oil CO2 emissions comes from us burning it as fuel like gasoline, diesel, heating oil.
              Burning a barrel of light sweet crude produces about 750
              pounds of CO2. Producing and processing it into gasoline produces about 120 pounds of CO2. So overall that is 870 pounds.
              The amount of CO2
              from producing gasoline from tar sands is probably and additional 120 pounds per barrel or a total of 990 pounds.
              Therefore you could say that tar sands produce  2.0 x the emissions of conventional oil takes to process and produce
              240 versus 120 pounds of CO2 but the actual effect is only
              990/870  = 14% more actual increase in atmospheric CO2.
              This is the reason I don't like this focus. The most important thing we can do to reduce CO2 emissions is to reduce end-user use of fossil fuels.

              •  Thank you for these numbers (0+ / 0-)

                The Nocera article and the report it relies on are still misleading. Most people would agree that an increase in greenhouse gas emissions of .03 to.3% is "pretty small", I don't think most people would agree that an increase of 14 to 20% over other sources of oil is "pretty small". Because we are being confronted with a  "cost/benefit" argument in support of the pipeline, it's important that we truly understand the real costs and not let people like Nocera mislead us.

  •  Edit: you've transposed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica

    the correct "well to wheel" into the confusing "wheel to well" in several places in the text. Please correct.

    We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

    by Keith Pickering on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:07:59 AM PST

  •  US Military needs to be included (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT

    Non North American oil also carries the burden of the US Military in its emissions of CO2 and US blood and non-US blood.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:35:56 AM PST

  •  But I only drove the getaway car your honor! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, mrkvica

    I didn't actually hold up the bank and shoot the guard, so I'm innocent!

    In today's media culture, it's very easy to be a stupid, lazy and/or deliberately dishonest reporter. In fact it's almost de rigeur, if one wants to get ahead and not piss off one's colleagues and bosses and be the turd in the punch bowl. Today's news media is in the business of selling eyeball-grabbing content that reinforces, and never really questions, the official narratives that tell us how to view and think about today's world and the issues facing us, and not challenge them, except at the margins and superficially, for show.

    IOW Nocera was just doing his job. Which is not being a real journalist.

    They're almost all Mad Men. And now Women.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:38:44 AM PST

  •  Sorry but only a fool would think for a second.... (0+ / 0-)

    ... that a pipeline being stopped will stop the oil from being dug up and sold.

    Yes it is expensive, but in case no one noticed, the price of oil has been going UP continuously and will do so FOREVER. No matter what, it WILL BE ECONOMICAL at some point.

    Until every drop is gone.

    They will simply do what they should have done in the first place, pipe into existing pipelines, and/or set up new refineries on lake Superior and ship finished product by tanker (the ultimately more profitable option).

    THE POINT about all of this is, unless we implement methods to sequester the CO2, burning that amount of reserves ... and their analogs around the world ... WILL KILL US (and much of the other life on Earth).

    However, if we solve the REAL problem, sequestering the CO2, we can in fact consume it all ultimately, all the oil, all the coal, all the gas on Earth. And hopefully have solar, wind, atomic and ultimately NUCLEAR (aka Fusion) to meet our needs entirely eventually.

    The reason above all to stop the XL pipeline is because these idiots will NOT build it safely and will ultimately cause environmental disasters from spillage. The people in the pathway need to stop it. The pathway itself is an idiotic choice based on cost NOT science and safety.

    But again, the writing is on the wall, all the oil WILL BE CONSUMED eventually, whether it is in the next 20 years, 200 years, or 2,000 years.

    We have the elements of solutions already known, to sequester the CO2, the time is here to implement those solutions, at the point of a gun if necessary, worldwide.

    Then we can deal with the other shoe... human population and our need to return to 2 billion (arbitrary number, pending science determining what Earth can support long term) max worldwide.

    •  Carbon Capture and Storage (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happymisanthropy, mrkvica

      sounds nice, but as a recent article points out:

      ...the technology has made disappointing progress over the past ten years. Not one integrated, large-scale electricity-plus-CCS project has yet been implemented anywhere in the world
      The technology isn't there yet. Also, no one has come up with a way to capture carbon from tailpipe emissions, and as the report to Congress demonstrates, that's where about 75% of the greenhouse gases are emitted from - the combustion, not the extraction and processing.
  •  I was surprised when they started to pipe (0+ / 0-)

    Dilutbit. Originally they were going to produce syncrude
    which is light, sweet crude keeping all the emissions up in Canada. Apparently it is cheaper to just dilute bitumen
    with crude and pump it to US refineries so now it is a US
    CO2 emissions problem.
    If US refineries sequester the additional CO2 then I don't see a problem, in fact it might be even better as those Gulf refineries are highly dependent on Mexican and Venezuelan high carbon heavy crude now and
    upgrading their dirty old refineries to capture and sequester CO2 from the refining process would be a good thing.

    This is something the EPA should require.

    All new oil, even conventional is dirtier and emits more CO2
    than light sweet oil so putting CO2 pollution controls on
    refineries and chemical plants is to be encouraged?

    I would gladly accept Keystone XL if CO2 emissions from oil refineries was captured and sequestered.

  •  two elites battling over the number of angels (0+ / 0-)

    on the head of a pin. (DK versus NYT)

    I laugh when reading the latest kerfuffles, overpriced useless conspicuous consumption machine and the right to trash ecosystems in places other than Canada to supply one's Jet A. Yawn.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 10:43:13 AM PST

  •  Exhausing the Tar Sands Creates Runaway Greenhouse (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    Here's your small effect!

    One of the very top greenhouse gas scientists in the US told me this, "We can use all the petroleum and it will be a problem but we'll probably still be reasonably okay, because there's not that much left. We may get away with using all the coal but it's not certain. However, if we use all the tar sands, we'll absolutely tip the atmosphere over into runaway greenhouse."

    Venus II anyone?

  •  nocera figures he'll be long gone by (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    the time the real destruction arrives.

  •  so if tar sands extraction accounts for (0+ / 0-)

    fully 3/8 of the total emissions (including extraction) what percent does the burning of related products yield (petrocoke)?

  •  Other pieces re Nocera to cite (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean, tonymil

    Thank you for kind words and excellent diary.

    Some important pieces on the OPED include:

    Others' reaction to Nocera:

    A carbon tax is essentially a way for policymakers to increase the price of fossil fuels and curb consumer demand without giving producers more incentive to exploit harder-to-reach supplies. There are plenty of arguments for and against a carbon tax, but by itself, it wouldn’t give an added boost to pricey new fossil-fuel sources.
    You might think an A-list business reporter for the NY Times would know basic economics. But not in the case of Joe Nocera. ...

    Last year, Nocera took exception to my saying he joined “the climate ignorati,” asserting that I was casting him as a “global warming denier.” But as I noted at the time, the ignorati are, as Google reveals, “Elites who, despite their power, wealth, or influence, are prone to making serious errors when discussing science and other technical matters.” The shoe fits.

    But Nocera doesn’t seem to be a fan of basic economics, as he proceeds to misunderstand Hansen’s policy proposal and offer the laughably wrong argument that a price on carbon would increase the market viability of the dirtiest oil with the highest production costs.

    Pro tip: Raising the price of a commodity does not improve its market position. In fact, raising the price of a commodity reduces demand for that commodity. This principle is known in economics as “supply and demand.”

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 07:07:41 AM PST

    •  Thanks for the additional cites! (0+ / 0-)

      I especially like  this line from the David Roberts article:

      Neither Nocera nor the dozens of other Very Serious People who repeat this argument explain why Venezuelan oil is worse for us than Canadian oil, despite its lower carbon footprint. Perhaps it has Chavez cooties in it?

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