The fossil fuel industry seeking President Obama’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline must show that when built the pipeline “doesn’t significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”
As noted in our last blog, both the Canadian fossil fuel industry and Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, think that this “condition” can be met. They agree with a U.S. State Department report delivered in January 2012 that most of the tar sands bitumen that would flow through the pipeline if approved would find its way to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast by other means of transport even if the pipeline was not approved. So approval of the pipeline won’t exacerbate anything.
In our view the condition is not just about practical calculations as to means of transport. There is a more fundamental principle at stake. To stay within 2 degrees C of global warming, half the world’s fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground. The most obvious candidate for this “freeze” is the tar sands.