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The U.S. State Department has released its Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement on the Keystone XL pipeline, and it's not good news for environmental activists who oppose it. It plays down the risks:
The analysis, which will inform the decision President Obama must make later this year on whether to grant TransCanada the permit to construct the pipeline connecting Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries, does not give environmentalists the answer they had hoped for in the debate over the project’s climate impact. Opponents say a presidential veto of the project would send a powerful message to the world about the importance of moving away from fossil fuels and make it more difficult for Canada to export its energy-intensive oil.

But the detailed environmental report — which runs close to 2,000 pages long — also questions one of the strongest arguments for the pipeline, by suggesting America can meet its energy needs over the next decade without it. The growth in rail transport of oil from western Canada and the Bakken Formation on the Great Plains and other pipelines, the analysis says, could meet the country’s energy needs for the next decade, even if Keystone XL never gets built.

From the report:
Based on information and analysis about the North American crude transport infrastructure (particularly the proven ability of rail to transport substantial quantities of crude oil profitably under current market conditions, and to add capacity relatively rapidly) and the global crude oil market, the draft Supplemental EIS concludes that approval or denial of the proposed Project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands, or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area.
Once the Draft SEIS is noticed in the Federal Register, a 45-day comment period will begin:

Members of the public, public agencies and other interested parties can submit comments, questions and concerns about the project via email to, at or mailed to:

U.S. Department of State
Attn: Genevieve Walker, NEPA Coordinator
2201 C Street NW, Room 2726
Washington, D.C. 20520

After the end of the public comment period, the Department will prepare a Final SEIS. A decision from President Barack Obama on the pipeline is not expected until mid-summer.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:20 PM PST.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, DK GreenRoots, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  In other surprise news... (14+ / 0-)

    the sun rose this morning.

    Kerry was never going to stop this.

    When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill...

    by PhilJD on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:24:37 PM PST

  •  But That Oil Doesn't Go to the US Does It? (11+ / 0-)

    Isn't it destined for offshore markets?

    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 Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:25:05 PM PST

  •  Are we talking about the same State Department (10+ / 0-)

    that was busted getting cozy with Keystone lobbyists just a few months ago? I'm shocked! I did not see that coming!

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:27:53 PM PST

  •  I'm sure if we flood department inboxes (4+ / 0-)

    during the 45-day comment period, maybe start a petition drive, we can still stop this bullshit. I'm sure they simply don't realize how deep the opposition to Keystone really is.

    Fucking snark.

    When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill...

    by PhilJD on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:28:58 PM PST

  •  Such a losing battle (9+ / 0-)

    To reject the Keystone XL was to keep the status quo, at best. To approve the Keystone XL is to subsidize the soulless, carcinogenic, climate changing tar sands industry. It's regretful on too many levels, but maybe the only thing to shield me from too much hopelessness is that I was never about to psyche myself up over the prospect of its rejection. The Obama administration is lukewarm on environmental leadership. I simply don't trust that he has a firm grasp on how imminent the climate crisis is. So if I'm an environmentalist, what am I, chopped liver?

    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~Edward Abbey ////\\\\ "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." ~W.E.B. DuBois

    by rovertheoctopus on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:29:42 PM PST

    •  Well, that and the American public is tired... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Steve Canella

      ...of paying $3.80+/gallon for gas...and that number is likely to be $4.25 or so when the summer hits.

      No matter how dedicated he is to caring for the environment, President Obama is also tasked with trying to ease the wallets of working Americans who are making less money while everything gets more expensive. He has to take all that into consideration.

      I blame him for some things, but not for this. It is as inevitable as the sun rising.

      Adequate health care should be a LEGAL RIGHT in the U.S without begging or bankruptcy. Until it is, we should not dare call our society civilized.

      by Love Me Slender on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:11:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  this will have no effect on gas prices (8+ / 0-)

        none what so ever

        gas prices are now subject to wallstreet and speculation

        Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

        by greenbastard on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:14:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That doesn't matter politically...not one bit... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Victor Ward

          It's like the GOP's "firm stand" on budget cuts by keeping with the tenets of the sequestration. They know compared to the overall size of the budget that those cuts aren't what their voters want to see, but they will be seen by those same voters as "doing something" about it.

          Obama can point to Keystone XL when gas prices jump and say "See? See? I increased oil supply...I 'did something'"

          This project was never about bringing the price of oil down. Like so many things political, it is about the perception of "doing something".

          Adequate health care should be a LEGAL RIGHT in the U.S without begging or bankruptcy. Until it is, we should not dare call our society civilized.

          by Love Me Slender on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:18:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  ...and with all due respect, you can't possibly... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Victor Ward, 6412093

          ...know what is in the minds of futures speculators. To assert that piping 900,000 barrels of new oil into the U.S will have ZERO impact on the price of oil and gas ceteris paribus apropos refining numbers is a tad shaky to me. I'd love to see your data backing that claim up.

          Adequate health care should be a LEGAL RIGHT in the U.S without begging or bankruptcy. Until it is, we should not dare call our society civilized.

          by Love Me Slender on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:25:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And the Keystone is all about exports (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Losty, aliasalias

          Keystone will do nothing about US gas prices.  Its just to move dirty crude to TX refineries for export.

          It's in the SEIS that Keystone is an explicit means to increase exports because they would come from Canada.


          "In 2005, exports began increasing. Exports were typically either products not consumed in large quantities in the United States (petroleum coke, residual fuel, etc.) or gasoline and distillate oils (such as diesel and heating oils). Export volumes have increased to over 3 mmbpd in the first half of 2012. This increased volume of refined products is being exported by refiners as they respond to lower domestic gasoline demand and continued higher demand and prices in overseas markets (Figure 1.4.4-7).     [Section 1.4, page 15]

          And why use Keystone Crude?  The SEIS says:

          "Gulf Coast refiners’ traditional sources of heavy crudes, particularly Mexico and Venezuela, are declining and are expected to continue to decline. This results in an outlook where the refiners have significant incentive to obtain heavy crude from the oil sands. "   [Section 1.4, page 16]

          Finally, can the refineries really do this?  The SEIS says:

          "It is possible that Canadian-origin crude oil transported to the Gulf Coast area (whether by the proposed Project, other pipelines, or by rail) could be exported to other countries. There is a restriction on exporting domestically produced crude oils. Export licenses can be obtained for a foreign-origin crude provided it has not been commingled with crude oil of U.S. origin (15 Code of Federal Regulations 754.2(b)(vii)). To export a foreign-origin crude, the exporter must demonstrate to the Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security that the crude oil in question is not of U.S. origin and has not been commingled with oil of U.S. origin."  [ Section 1.4, page 16]

          "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

          by oregonj on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:31:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  None of the quoted text you've shown (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Victor Ward, alphorn, 6412093

            support your actual assertion and claim that the Keystone XL Pipeline delivery of tar sands synthetic crude is primarily for export marketing.  

            Your first quote from the SEIS only addresses the present export market in refinery products, not heavy sour synthetic crude which will be transported in the Keystone XL Pipeline.   That quote does not address any part of your claim that may address export of synthetic tar sands crude.  

            Note that the refinery products for export comes from the pre-existing panel of refineries in the region which receive and co-mingle multiple crude sources and supply the large domestic market for refinery petroleum products.

            Your second quote from the SEIS contains an acknowledgement that heavy sour crude from Mexico and Venezuela [they should have also mentioned Saudi crude that has been imported down there] would be replaced by the tar sands synthetic crude at those same refineries that meet the present domestic market for refinery products plus the smaller and limited export market for refinery products.

            Your second quote from the SEIS actually is evidence that your foreign export predominance characterization of the primary disposition of Keystone XL Pipeline crude deliveries is erroneous.

            Your third SEIS quote does not support your case either since your presumption is that it is refinery products and not crude constitute the predominance of shipments of final disposition of refined Keystone XL crude deliveries.   Those products are, again, produced in the existing panel of regional refineries in facilities which co-mingle numerous sources of crude.   There isn't any way to distinguish refinery products produced from tar sands crude from other crude of similar API viscosity, elemental analysis and especially sulfur content.

            The 830,000 barrels per day of tar sands crude which will be delivered to south central region area petroleum refineries will replace Mexican, Saudi and Venezuelan heavy sour crude presently utilized, refined and consumed in the U.S. domestic market.   It will do so in the south-central area in the same manner as tar sands crude has displaced other sources in the Midwest which gets most of its crude now from tar sands or Bakken sources.

            I view all of this talk about Keystone XL pipeline petroleum being exported as shear conflation that does not help any effort to defeat the pipeline or constrain Canadian tar sands production.

            •  Thank you, Lake Superior! (0+ / 0-)

              This issue is very complex and you helped me to understand it more fully.

              I am an Albertan concerned about the environment, but aware of the benefits of North American energy independence (maybe no more Gulf wars) and aware that it will be mighty cold and dark without carbon energy. They are drilling at 20,000 feet in the Gulf of Mexico and you can't tell me that isn't dangerous to the environment.

              We need to work on green energy, we need to use the carbon energy we have more carefully, and we need to kick ass when the energy and pipeline industries screw up.  Eventually carbon energy will be too expensive and green energy will compete, but that will mean huge changes in our way of life.  Best case scenario now is that oil sands bitumen will be a bridge energy until better, greener energy is developed, but I may be dreaming.

              God is innocent: Noah built on a flood plain.

              by alphorn on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 04:31:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You are the first person I've encountered (0+ / 0-)

                who would call tar sands synthetic crude "bridge energy" to a somehow cleaner future.   I don't think the tar sands industry even talks like that.

                A valid case could be made for calling natural gas combustion a form of "bridge energy" but not for tar sands synthetic crude production.

              •  I would like to think so..... (0+ / 0-)

                but I'm afraid most of us aren't totally convinced that Keystone could up being a bridge of sorts. I guess it's definitely not totally impossible, but I wouldn't bet on anything just yet.

      •  I disagree re: the supposed inevitability......... (0+ / 0-)

        But I wouldn't blame Obama if the pipeline managed to go through, either.....however, I do take comfort in the fact that he is at least trying his best to fight climate change otherwise.

  •  Seems to me rail transport would emit more C02 (5+ / 0-)

    than a pipeline.  Rail engines run on diesel.  Pipeline pump stations could be run on natural gas and would not require near as much fuel or HP as all the rail engines that would otherwise be required.

    •  You can't figure any of this out in pieces (6+ / 0-)

      You need to look at the big picture.

      That's the problem with what you just wrote and what's in the report. There's a huge increase in oil production in North Dakota. When you look at all the new oil sources and all the ways of getting it to market you will see that Keystone XL will increase Canada's ability to get dilbit out of Canada.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:41:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, there shouldn't be a pipeline or (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PhilJD, figbash, 6412093

      rail line. That stuff has to stay in the ground, along with 80% of the proven oil reserves already on the books.

      When 1% take 121% of the gains from "recovery", people actually recovering from lost employment are trading down on wages and benefits. Current strategies by moderates don't even consider winning the Class War.

      by Words In Action on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:46:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The problem is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DRo, Roadbed Guy

        the rail lines are already there, and they don't need a permit to ship the Tar Sands by rail.  However it's more expensive to ship by rail rather than a pipeline.

        But you also don't have to "dilute" the Tar Sands with solvents when you ship by rail, rather than pipeline, so that saves a little dough.

        Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

        by 6412093 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:05:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Plus, on the return trip the "empty" (0+ / 0-)

          rail cars can (and do!) carry diluent back to the tarsands extraction site - which enables about 4x more volume to be shipped by pipeline (i.e., the existing pipelines).

          So it's really a win-win scenario in that regard (i.e., there are a proportion of 1%'ers out there - the railroad folk  - who'd be tickled pink to see Keystone Deep Sixed).

    •  How much energy does it take by rail vs pipeline? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      6412093, Roadbed Guy

      The 'cost' of transporting the stuff can be measured on (at least) three scales: money, total energy used, and CO2 emission.  I'd be interested in the comparison.

      I'd also be interested in an estimate of the risks of an oil spill or spills, and how big they would be, with rail vs pipeline.

      The costs vs benefits of using the oil in tar sands vs just leaving it alone is the really important question, but estimating that depends a lot on assumptions that are subject to a lot of bias.  For what it's worth, I think the world's reliance on/addiction to oil has pretty much forced that issue anyway.

      We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

      by david78209 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:52:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The NY Times (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        says the oil spill rate of rail VS pipeline is discussed in the SEIS, and that rail spills are more frequent, but not as large as pipeline spills.

        Regarding CO2 emissions, you are balancing diesel-fired train engines against natural gas fired turbine compressors.

        Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

        by 6412093 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:07:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  for big oil (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the only cost they consider is $

        I mentioned below, but CN rail claims they can transport oil via rail for less than the cost by pipeline..  I saw an $18.00 per barrel cost mentioned to tranport it from Alberta to the Gulf Coast via pipeline.

        •  That's the differential between (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          6412093, david78209

          rail (up to $31/bbl or so) and pipeline (about $8/bbl at the cheapest)

          •  found it (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Not that it isn't bs, but....

            The business model is that currently pipelines charge C$ 17.95 per barrel to ship oil from Alberta to the gulf coast and "we can do it cheaper", said CN Executive Vice President Jim Foote.
            •  But that clashes with figures given by (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              a company that's already doing this:

              Depending on the origin and destination of crude, shipping by rail can cost nearly four times as much as shipping by pipeline. For example, it will cost Southern Pacific Resource Corp, a small Alberta producer, $31 a barrel to move its Canadian oil sands-mined heavy crude by rail to the U.S. Gulf Coast, according to company estimates. The comparative pipeline cost would be around $8 a barrel.

              Your link is 4 years old - reality has moved on to other pricing modalities since then, apparently.

    •  Hey, but what if we had nuclear powered trains? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Might conservatives decide they like trains again if they had nuclear powered engines? Just need a lower grade fuel, enough to produce adequate steam power. Conservatives would be crying for high speed nuclear trains if only they had that idea first. We could even have cars on trains devoted to transporting guns and SUVs and the scads of new trans-vaginal ultrasound machines so sorely needed around the country.


      Although, spending billions on improving trains, train safety and rails, instead of pipelines subject to leakage, breakage, and worse--allowing toxic sludge seeping into ground water aquifers, means significant segments of the rail infrastructure of the US and Canada could benefit, and this could provide transportation improvements benefiting multiple sectors of the economy in both nations, and maybe be a boon for passenger/commuter services too.  All that land that is slated to be taken away from our citizen landowners by eminent domain for these pipelines--can't that same land be set aside for multiple purposes, some recreational, to benefit citizens?  Or perhaps requiring that there be certain square meters of solar cells or wind generators every mile? Research gathering instruments for climate science? Bird and insect migration? Require additional purposes for this land which gives something back to this nation.

      Plan B. Why isn't the Dept. of State pressing hard in seeking some serious compensating values for this nation, from a pipeline that largely benefits other nations and a small percentage of the wealthy?  Giving away the land is so 19th Century.

      Hey Kerry--where is our Option C Leave it in Canada?
      C) Leave it all in the ground and walk away. If it makes it palatable, grant oil  companies nice tax write offs for the next 20 years to do that.

      Or perhaps a fall-back compromise D?
      D) Grant the oil companies nice tax breaks for the next 40 years to build the needed advanced refineries and ports in Canada.  

      It just seems absurdly whacked to imagine our experienced and trusted leaders are believing that the most economically rational thing is snaking a pipeline to haul this steamy toxic sludge across thousands of miles of this continent over sensitive aquifers (maybe even hoping it is built to exceed specifications and will be fastidiously maintained). Nothing cries out for real and thorough federal oversight as this construction project. It is an obvious threat to our national security if it's screwed up in construction, or fails at any of hundreds of key points. There needs to be a real 'life-cycle' plan that goes through end-of-useful-life for this sort of project, and include returning the land back to citizens in good usable form.

      When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

      by antirove on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:34:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  what puzzles me about this project, and unless (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    figbash, Seneca Doane

    I am wrong, from what I have read/heard, Canada, is generally quite pro Keystone, even given that it is an evironmental disaster...

  •  what a surprise! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, Paleo, Losty, aliasalias

    NOT. I've been working with several key environmental groups on this matter since the get-go. Both parties sold us out, and if anyone thinks Mr. Obama is going to stand up and shout it down, you have another thing coming. And this damnable fossil fuel industry, despite the mega info that's out there about how we have already choked our planet near to death given the greenhouse emissions and all that carbon we're not able to draw down. . .I'd say someone wants to end this world, take their greed to the grave, and screw every generation down the line. This Keystone nonsense is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg and this news posted in this diary is anticipatory as pay raises are for Congress. In those indelible words voiced by Hayduke, but here abbreviated in case I'm writing to a PG audience. . .FFF! (The Keystone folks and those who back 'em up.)

    Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

    by richholtzin on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:37:03 PM PST

  •  two words (16+ / 0-)

    Kalamazoo, Michigan.
    That ongoing disaster is all anyone needs to know about tar sands.

    Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. A. A. Milne

    by hulibow on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:37:28 PM PST

  •  no small favors (5+ / 0-)

    •  That spur thru South Dakota looks like (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      it goes right through the Badlands. Badlands National Park is one of America's  wild treasures. I haven't look at the EIS so maybe the route doesn't go thru the park, but there's lots of wild land around there that needs protecting.

      Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

      by willyr on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 03:04:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Does it stop at Wall Drug??? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Steve Canella

        Do they still have the dinosaur? And the ice water?

        I remember seeing the first sign outside of Billings and thinking oh no, not another South of the Border.

        Funny thing, the only time I ever stopped in Wall, SD was with an empty gas tank at 4:00AM. The town doesn't open until 6:00 and I was heading west again long before Wall Drug opened that day. It seemed like a silly place.

  •  They still need to do another report on national (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    figbash, dewley notid

    interest right? and btw is there any chance their assesment might actually be accurate?

    •  "National interest" is the key issue because... (5+ / 0-)

      ...that is the rationale for the State Dept. having authority in deciding cross-border pipelines.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:06:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  agree. And there is plenty of rational for (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        rejecting under "national interest".

        Macca's Meatless Monday

        by VL Baker on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:56:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  There are two fundamental decision issues (0+ / 0-)

        There is the decision criteria on "national Interest" for a presidential pipeline permit and just as important as that for potential litigators against this decision is National Environmental Policy Act compliance.  

        Is, or is not, the SEIS an accurate, reliable and credible description of the facility and its impact, including the impact of both construction and operation of the pipeline.

        Any determination of "national interest" must necessarily rely on the statements, characterizations and depictions of the Keystone XL Pipeline construction and operation as shown in the NEPA-required EIS a result, there should be a way to collaterally attack a "national interest" determination if it can be shown that the Final EIS is erroneous or defective in a substantial manner.....  However, the other problem is that courts are likely to show a considerable deference to an agency determination by Dept. of State.  

        As a result of all of this, commentors on the SEIS are the 'first responders' for potential future litigation.   The comments filed must show, within the language of both statutes (NEPA and presidential permit statute) that the agency decision is clearly erroneous and/or illegal, that serious factual errors have been committed whose correction would lead to a different decision and disposition.

      •  National Secuirty is an issue as well, isn't it? (0+ / 0-)

        May be we could believe in a pipedream whereby our military would protect us from our government letting corporations endanger our environment to the point of no return, at least this guy, who I saw watching over the last DC Keystone demo seems to suggest, they might one day just do that.... least one can laught about that.

        US military words sustainability from mimi on Vimeo.

  •  The section references (5+ / 0-)

    in the executive summary don't match up with the actual report, and for that reason alone it should be rejected.  But Kerry only has to take this into account in making his final decision, though politically it will make it harder.  Rightly or wrongly (wrongly), this doc will be seen as the "pure" technical one and the final version after N&C will be the "political one," as if the political one weren't a better reflection of values and in some cases science by bringing other views to bear.  (I still think Kerry will tend towards rejecting it, since SOS is a legacy job for him.)  

    The exec summary makes two interesting points, first that the development of tar sands will largely continue without the project; and second that the development of domestic oil fields will mean that the extra carbon that would otherwise be avoided won't make that much of a difference.  I think the first point is dubious, but the second is mordantly powerful.  The speculation about leaking is fairly Mickey Mouse, but I was surprised to read the extent of Canadian mitigation efforts.

    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

    by Loge on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:41:13 PM PST

    •  You said: (0+ / 0-)
      "first that the development of tar sands will largely continue without the project; [SNIP] I think the first point is dubious "
      I don't understand why you consider that the first point is dubious.  Many of the refineries in the midwest U.S. and in the eastern part of Canada get most of their crude from tar sands sources.  Why is it "dubious" that tar sands development will continue if the pipeline is not built?
  •  If their assessment about rail is correct then (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093, figbash, sweatyb, Victor Ward

    what's the point in trying to defeat the pipeline?

    'approval or denial of the proposed Project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands, or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area.'

    Or is it a question of leaks? There could be indeed fewer leaks from rail transport.

    •  Pipelines are safer than rail (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, LakeSuperior

      in terms of amounts moved vs. amounts spilt.

      Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

      by 6412093 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:54:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  rail (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I can't imagine rail is safer than a pipeline.  Train derailments are not uncommon.  Plus, small leaks from valves on the train cars and when transferring into and out of the tankers is going to happen.

      I have been reading up a little on rail transport of the oil.  I came across one report from CN (Canadian National Rail) where they claim they can ship the oil to its destination by rail cheaper than the XL pipeline.  Plus it has the advantage that the oil can be diverted to different destination easily depending upon the demand at individual refineries or ports.

      I don't think stopping the pipeline is going to stop the tar sands exploitation.  I'd like to see a deal made at to get something (green energy investment) in exchange for allowing the pipeline.

  •  My Fear (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    caseylaw, Seneca Doane

    I have a strong fear that Obama will ultimately give the go-ahead to the pipeline out of an irrational, empirically baseless belief that doing so will show his "seriousness" and "bipartisanship" and make Republicans more likely to work with him on an energy bill.  Obama has tried that style of an approach time and time again, and time and time again, it fails.

    •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

      with that fear, but I think this issue might be a little more slanted in Obama's favor; maybe he could actually use it to leverage a good, climate-defending policy.  

      Since approval is almost completely in Obama's hands, if he makes clear he'll scuttle the pipeline without a trade, he'll force GOP into an awkward spot.  GOP has been bitching and moaning about Keystone, so if they get an opportunity to get it through, in exchange for climate policies with widespread public support, they'll be pressured to take it.  

      It'd be a win-win if Obama goes bold on his opening offer.  GOP would get to trumpet a success but so would Obama, and policy would improve overall.

    •  I agree that he'll ok the pipeline. (0+ / 0-)

      But I disagree as to why; I think he'll ok it out of thinking that it is actually good policy.

  •  I've been told by kossacks that this doesn't (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilJD, Victor Ward

    matter. We're not going to be able to stop every new project. Besides, if we don't do it, someone else will. And it's not "game over" if you don't count burning all the other oil already on the books and the methane factor...

    Get over it.

    When 1% take 121% of the gains from "recovery", people actually recovering from lost employment are trading down on wages and benefits. Current strategies by moderates don't even consider winning the Class War.

    by Words In Action on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:43:29 PM PST

  •  But I do so love ideological integrity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, Victor Ward, aliasalias

    I mean pipeline, drone strikes, cuts to Social Security.  It all makes ideological sense for a deeply conservative political party.  

    Now, the hard question is how did I get here?

  •  The pipeline risks are pretty small compared to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bon Temps

    our continued use of the oil coming from the tar sands.

    But seriously, the State Department is about diplomacy and international relations.

    How do you keep a straight face, as a representative of the US government, while you say "We don't want to let you run your stinky old oil across our country so you can have it refined and send it off to Europee or China or whereever.  We want you to keep sending your stinkly old oil to us so we can refined it and burn it."

    And -- do our guys really have an exit strategy if they say, "Fine. You won't have to have any of our stinky old oil in your country.  We can sell every drop we make, so -- we'll just get it out by whatever means we can.  Just not to you"

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:44:19 PM PST

    •  The amount of energy and pollution generated by (3+ / 0-)

      the tar sands process is the biggest polluter

      by Paleo on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:51:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are new separation techniques (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Victor Ward, 6412093

      that will greatly reduce the impact of processing tar sands.

      This is a couple years old, but they are coming up with new stuff all the time. .

      New Process Cleanly Extracts Oil from Tar Sands and Fouled Beaches

       I say, build the pipeline - especially since there are thousands of miles of pipeline already in the path of Keystone XL

      •  Will they add to costs? Probably . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bon Temps

        Therefore they will not be used.

        The best we can possibly hope for in this particular case is a rerouting that doesn't cross the Ogalalla Aquifer at its deepest location.

        As for everything else, it's just heaping fruit on a grave.  

        We'll break 400 ppm by 2015, which is about the same time I'm expecting the see an ice-free Arctic Ocean boiling with methane releases during the summer.

        What was that again about "reducing the impact of processing tar sands"?

        •  That might actually be a good argument against (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          6412093, Bon Temps

          Keystone, or, at least, against carte blanche Keystone.

          I don't get very excited about Keystone because the oil will be extracted and sent to market anyway.

          It wouldn't surprise me if Keystone opposition actually resulted in more environmental harm from less efficient modes of transportation.


          The presence of cost-efficient transportation (or the ability to create it) creates the possibility of a wedge, ie,

          We will allow you to build a pipeline, but only if the oil is extracted using process X, Y, or Z.

          Needless to say, the extra cost of X, Y, or Z couldn't overwhelm the cost savings of using the pipeline, but there is at least the potential to do actual good.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:42:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Ill give the Obama Administration this, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, dewley notid

    with his sell out of the Texas land to a foreign national company to pollute and create a carbon footprint on par with NYC, he has managed to hell the bonds between the Left and the Right in Texas.

    If he was wanting a bipartisan approach to this issue, he got it. We are both in argeement this is bullshit.

    If the State Department continues to bow down to their oil industry pay masters, they might just invent one of the most amusing political characters here in the Lone Star.

    Environmental Libertarians.

    Texas is Texas, you know. The second you think you got it figured out, it will switch on you. Just ask Rick Perry in 2012.

    by Patience John on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:45:02 PM PST

  •  Bloody hell, at least pretend you will block it... (5+ / 0-)

    The GOP REALLY want this, so get some bloody concessions at least.  I mean for crying out loud, get EPA Nominee confirmed, get levy on incoming oil that goes directly to renewable R&D funding...  

    If you're not talking about what billionaire hedgefund bankster Peter G. Peterson is up to you're having the wrong conversations.

    by Jacoby Jonze on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:45:38 PM PST

  •  You know he's going to approve it (5+ / 0-)

    All the whIle saing we have to do something about climate change.

    by Paleo on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:46:45 PM PST

    •  Well America could invade Canada to stop them (0+ / 0-)

      from mining it.  Or maybe pay Canada the $2T to buy all the tar sands and keep them in the ground.  

      Otherwise the only decision is really about the safety of the actual pipeline.  

      If you're not talking about what billionaire hedgefund bankster Peter G. Peterson is up to you're having the wrong conversations.

      by Jacoby Jonze on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:52:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Less mining with less of a market (0+ / 0-)

        Which approval will give them.

        by Paleo on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:02:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, the president could say, as the ... (6+ / 0-)

        ...Pentagon has done now for several years, that climate change is a crucial matter of national security and that because the pipeline enables tar sands development it should be rejected on those grounds. Obviously, that won't stop their development, but it would make clear that the U.S. is serious about dealing with climate change (assuming the president simultaneously would, say, stop all U.S. coal exports.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:12:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  National Security is the president's ace (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades

          in the hole, if he wants to use it. We all remember so many presidents ---NiXXonReaganBushBush come to mind---who hollered "national security, national security" every time they needed an excuse to do something that was profoundly bad because they didn't have any actual good reasons to do so.

          The Environmental Impact Statement will say whatever it says, but it's written by technocrats, not the president. It will give him enough room to rule either way, and ultimately he has the opportunity to use the decision to think big, go long, in the national interest...for national you say.

          I hope he takes that opportunity.

          Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

          by willyr on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:53:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Two words: (0+ / 0-)

    Exxon Valdez

    Honesty is not a policy. It's a character trait.

    by Says Who on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:50:37 PM PST

  •  All this sucking up of one disappointment ` (0+ / 0-)

    after another has given me a serious case of heartburn.

    I had hopes for this one.

    Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

    by figbash on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:50:37 PM PST

  •  Why doesn't Canada capitalize all the way (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093, ShoshannaD

    and refine their oil in BC and ship it to Asia themselves?

    Why split their huge profits with us? Probably because they respect their own land too much to dirty it up.

    Well, thanks, neighbor!

    Honesty is not a policy. It's a character trait.

    by Says Who on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:54:16 PM PST

  •  The administration has to protect the investments (0+ / 0-)

    made by the fossil fuel industry in the tar sands.  That's more important  to them than the environment and the public health.

    by Paleo on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:54:44 PM PST

  •  Looks like the pipeline goes through heavily RED (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, Losty, Steve Canella

    Congressional Districts.  If it gets built, and then breaks, you'll see the same people who elected the Congressmen who voted against Sandy relief, screaming about their relief.  Fuck 'em.  How does that song go?...An' don't it make my Red State Blue..wooooooooo!

    There is no hell on earth appropriate enough for those who would promote the killing of another person, in the name of a god.

    by HarryParatestis on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:55:07 PM PST

  •  KXL will have far less impact on worldwide carbon (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, Steve Canella

    based pollution than the President's strict new CAFE standards. Because Obama has the right idea, conserve in order to save the planet.   Instead of making emotionally satisfying public protests, travel less, insulate more and if you haven't already get a hybrid car or a bicycle.

    •  If you haven't already done so, buy a hybrid? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Victor Ward

      Great.  Also, if you have no bread, eat cake.

      How about, if we're serious, just having the government buy a fleet of hybrids and sell them to people for the price of used Kias?

      Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
      -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:38:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  how about a bicycle...much better. If I can do it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        anyone can.  Got out of the car culture 10 years ago. It was a major transition but can be done.

        Macca's Meatless Monday

        by VL Baker on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 03:02:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm guess that you don't live in a hilly area (0+ / 0-)

          like I do, nor do you routinely have to go 30 miles one way for events and meetings.  (I do own a hybrid as a result -- but it was an expensive choice.)

          Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

          "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
          -- Saul Alinsky

          by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 03:29:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  i live in Fl with mega traffic and wild drivers. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            not bicycle friendly at all and very hot! Over 10 years I reduced driving to 0.  by walking, biking and taking public transport (which is not great here) to work.  We did move to a more walkable neighborhood (by FL standards)  I lead a very active life but have committed to this lifestyle. True, I can't live at the same pace I did while driving but that is a good thing.

            Macca's Meatless Monday

            by VL Baker on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 03:59:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sadly, too many Americans think bitching (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Steve Canella

              about about stuff they don't like is the way to solve problems.

            •  Not really feasible in my county (0+ / 0-)

              which is suburban, spread out, and in many places hilly.  I could do it; I could not earn a decent living for my family given the time it would take.

              Plaintiffs' Employment Law Attorney (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, wage & hour, &c.) in North Orange County, CA.

              "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."
              -- Saul Alinsky

              by Seneca Doane on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 07:09:29 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  True, does slow pace. I don't work very close to (0+ / 0-)

                home and not driving has made me creative about transport.  Having lived a mega materialistic-consumer lifestyle this is a deliberate choice and i would never go back.

                Macca's Meatless Monday

                by VL Baker on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 06:27:37 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Very true, Jack. Good point. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Too many people forget about the progress that HAS been made under this administration.....

  •  That's not oil being pumped (4+ / 0-)

    and when spilled it's nearly impossible to clean up the mess.

    He also wanted to know things like: What kind of damage could a spill cause? And what chemicals would flow in the pipeline?

    TransCanada told Daniel in writing that questions about spills were hypothetical because their pipeline would be designed not to spill. But in a document for the State Department, TransCanada predicted two spills every 10 years over the entire length of its Keystone XL pipeline, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Some scientists argue that the company underestimates that risk. Another pipeline it put into service two years ago has had 14 spills in the United States, although most were small, according to TransCanada.

    "It's like molasses but even a little thicker," Bolenbaugh says. "And it smells like asphalt, kind of. When it was fresh, it was a horrible, horrible smell, like they just paved your road, but they paved it on all four sides of your house, and you had to stay there for months. It was that bad."

    Enbridge and the EPA dispute Bolenbaugh's interpretation of the role he's played, but they both confirm that it has taken far longer to clean up the oil than expected. Early on, the EPA gave the company a couple of months. Two years and $800 million later, the cleanup is still going on. The cost eclipses every other onshore oil cleanup in U.S. history.

  •  Let's not act all surprised now. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    420 forever, Victor Ward
  •  there will be no winning me back from this if it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewley notid

    goes through, and they cut SS and other social safety nets. I've about had it with all the double talk and deception from centrist democrats

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

    by greenbastard on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:12:13 PM PST

  •  Thanks for keeping us updated Meteor Blades (0+ / 0-)

    We must do what we can.

  •  Call the State Department and tell them to be more (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steve Canella

    honest about this:

    Kerry's a good man but he needs to hear from us.

    Funny Stuff at

    by poopdogcomedy on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:13:36 PM PST

  •  Nicer than Republicans, but the same results (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Victor Ward

    Obama: self-described moderate Republican

    by The Dead Man on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:23:43 PM PST

  •  If I had to choose between pipeline or rail (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of course I'd choose the one less prone to spills, but no one want's to think that way.

    A very easy way to stop more oil than would flow through the pipeline is to just use less. America has seemingly done very little for conservation yet.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:26:22 PM PST

  •  Exactly WTF am I getting out the Democratic party? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Victor Ward, Losty

    I come from a pro labor, hard core environmentalist background. For years I've worked for gay rights, and back immigration reform. Even though really neither issue makes a damn bit of impact on my life personally. I don't regret doing that, but when it comes to major issues I actually care about the Democratic party consistent tells me to fuck off and drop dead. Constantly say "hey we're better than what Romney would have done" is not a fucking environmental agenda.

    Frack everywhere, it's inevitable, build any fucking pipeline you want, it's inevitable, burn carbon based fuels until it's someone else's turn to fix it, do whatever the fuck you want to the environment. It's all cool man. After all the greenie weenies have no where else to go.

    Fuck this shit. I am so furious right now.

    "Buying Horizon Milk to support organic farming is like purchasing an English muffin in an effort to prop up the British economy." -Windowdog

    by Windowdog on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:43:39 PM PST

  •  I'm curious why this is a State Department study.. (0+ / 0-)

    Isn't this more of an EPA or Dept of Interior issue?

  •  Follow the money. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Dem's are all in on this. The environmentalists have no Party.

  •  next up: new ports to export coal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Losty, Meteor Blades

    okay, tar sands oil will be flowing from Canada down to Texas and from there into the world market. American workers will get a couple bucks to lay some pipe and clean up when it springs a leak.

    US coal companies  are also eager to move ahead in building more ports in Washington and Oregon for exports to Asia. Protests have been ongoing.Both tar sands and coal will create major risks on their way out of the country and when burned overseas will pour plenty of greenhouse gases into the atmsophere. (all the malarkey about "clean coal" - if such a thing is possible - hardly applies to foreign plants.)

    and for all the talk of jobs!jobs!jobs! such exports contribute little to US employment.

    If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

    by Valatius on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 03:08:17 PM PST

  •  The important point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093 that citizens can comment.  People with the technical background to take apart the SEIS logic can comment.  And there is a 45-day window in which to get that done.  Crowd-sourcing the reading of the SEIS would be a first step as the comment period does not open for a week.

    Essentially, the summary of the SEIS argues that blocking the pipeline only reroutes the tar sand slurry and oil sand slurry to transport through rail cars or existing pipelines.  And those alternatives would have environmental impacts.  So rejecting the pipeline does not protect the environment.

    This is the logic that must be challenged.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 03:11:47 PM PST

  •  Scientific-minded people and conservationists (0+ / 0-)

    Have no representation in the United State Government.

    •  And kind of in short supply on OUR side. (0+ / 0-)

      Instead, we got complete morons squawking about the supposed risk of extinction of the human race or the supposedly inevitable and/or imminent end of civilization.

      We need more of the level-headed moderates, like Peter Sinclair(GreenMan on YT), and John Cook(Skeptical Science) out there. They are probably our only hope right now.

  •  These are the kinds of things real Dems would.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Victor Ward, Steve Canella

    not even contemplate in years past.

    Now it's a struggle, now we're fighting our own party.

    It's not enough to win elections. We also must move the Overton Window while in power, or the elections are largely pointless, as Obama has been on the environment.

  •  what did you expect? (0+ / 0-)

    The election is over.

  •  posted in Brune's diary today but repeat here (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steve Canella, Meteor Blades, DawnN

    Ralph Nader's comment in Perils of the Keystone XL Pipeline Confront Obama:

    Third, the “sleeper” argument on Obama’s desk is that TransCanada, having already invested big money in the U.S., can invoke Chapter 11 of the NAFTA trade agreement and sue the U.S. government for big damages if its permit is denied. Incredible as it may seem, the notorious Chapter 11 has been used by numerous companies to seek billions of dollars in damages from governmental official decisions in either Mexico, the U.S. or Canada. Companies have succeeded in obtaining settlements totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. (See Public Citizen.) Paid for by the taxpayers, of course.

    McKibben and associates know the odds of stopping the Keystone Pipeline are heavily against them. Obama can issue his approval and counteract its impact with intensified White House efforts to reduce the carbon/methane footprint. Obama could, to the delight of conservative and liberal economists, come out for a carbon tax. Obama should be a leader on environmental issues. His environmental supporters voted for him and declined to criticize him prior to the election. The letdown from the high expectation levels built on the many protests would be devastating to the morale and energy of the movement.

    •  Thanks for re-posting that, Boatsie. =) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      6412093, DawnN

      Even if Keystone XL get built, and it could, we needn't throw in the towels, no matter how much the doomers scream, or deniers laugh, or skeptics, we would need to re-double our efforts, regardless of the outcome.

  •  The Tar sands produce petcoke, dirtier than coal (0+ / 0-)

    It's by-product from bitumen extraction and it is being burned right now in Texas, in Koch Bros refineries. Petcoke is turning refineries into huge coal burning plants.

    Keystone (Koch Bros XL) XL is not only about the pipeline, it's about what the Tar Sands are doing to the biosphere.

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