The fight is not over.
Environmentalists and other opponents of the XL Pipeline were dealt a serious blow with last Fridays release of the State Departments assessment of the environmental effects of the building of the XL pipeline.
There has been much critiquing of the assessment which all but stated that the construction of the pipeline would not have a negative environmental effect.
The State Department said Friday that TransCanada Corp's pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to Texas would not add to global greenhouse gas emissions because oil sands crude will make it to market whether or not the project is built.The public has 45 days to comment on the State Department's review. Once that step is taken the department has 90 days to determine whether the project is in the national interest, with a decision expected in August or later.
That interpretation neutralized a major argument that many environmentalists have put forward against the 800,000 barrel per day pipeline: that once built it would usher in greater development of the oil sands, where production is carbon-intensive.
"We think 45 days is very insufficient given the 2,000-plus pages of analysis," said Danielle Droitsch, head of the Canada Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the groups fighting Keystone. Greens will write letters to officials seeking to extend the comment period to 120 days, she said.The pipeline decision has been pending by the State Department for over 4 years and opponents are hoping to extend the decision until events or new analysis prompt a rejection or proponents give up.
Robert McNally, the head of the Rapidan Group, who worked in the White House as an adviser to former President George W. Bush has said: "What Keystone proponents fear is slow-walking the decision to death, Some fear the administration could decide to prolong the permit review process indefinitely, until TransCanada gave up."
Climate Scientist James Hansen has stated that the building of the pipeline would be "game over" for the climate.
James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, made another appeal this week to end our reliance on tar sands oil or it will be “game over” for the climate. If we continue to approve pipelines bringing in the dirtiest of fuels like tar sands he said, “there is no hope of keeping carbon concentrations below 500 p.p.m. — a level that would, as earth’s history shows, leave our children a climate system that is out of their control.” The production of tar sands oil has three times the global warming emissions as conventional oil production. Hansen rightly cautions that turning to these “dirtiest of fuels” for our gas tanks derails efforts to reduce our dependency on climate-changing fossil fuels.Let's keep the resistance going. Keeping the oil in the ground is an essential component to mitigating the worst effects of climate change. Just as Rosa Parks action did not end segregation but was an important catalyst for resistance; so resistance to the XL pipeline can create a change of trajectory for US energy policy.