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U.S. Rules Climate Change Won't Be a Threat to the Keystone Pipeline — and Vice Versa

Good news for environmentalists who might otherwise be lamenting the State Department giving initial environmental approval for the Keystone XL pipeline: The government determined that the pipeline itself won't be damaged by climate change.


RELATED: Obama Administration Pushes Keystone Pipeline Decision Until After the Election


The highly controversial pipeline, lambasted by critics as a tremendously risky project for the environment, won a key victory with the release of the State Department's draft environmental impact assessment by the State Department. Release of the draft report late this Friday afternoon kicks off a 45-day period of public comment. You can read the executive summary of the report here if you plan to comment — and if the history of the proposal has taught us anything, it's that there will be a great deal of comment indeed.


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At question is whether State should grant TransCanada, the Canadian firm hoping to build the pipeline, authorization to bring it across the U.S.-Canada border. TransCanada hopes to complete a route from the tar sands deposits of Alberta, Canada, down the middle of the country, and to the Gulf Coast. Proponents of the project tout the short-term job creation potential of such a major project, as well as the possible reduction of oil from Middle East if imports from Canada increase. Critics argue (generally in much stronger terms) that the project would substantially increase the use of an energy source that is much more carbon intensive than conventional oil sources — setting aside concerns over the possibility of a spill. The worst on-land spill in American history resulted from the rupture of a tar sands pipeline in Michigan.


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TransCanada's initial proposal for the pipeline brought the pipeline across an environmentally sensitive region of Nebraska, prompting even that state's Republican governor to experess concerns about the project. A revised plan from TransCanada changed the proposed route to largely avoid those regions, prompting the state to approve the project — and removing a key reason for the State Department to nix the proposal.


RELATED: How Will GOP Gains Affect Climate Policy?


As one would expect, the report is thorough. It notes that some 15,493 acres would be disturbed during construction — an area of about 24 square miles — and that the pipeline would cross over 1,000 bodies of water. It articulates the native species of plants and animals that would be effected by construction. And — of most concern to environmentalists — it considers how the project will affect and be affected by climate change. The project will create 240,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas while being built, and another 3.19 million metric tons each year thereafter — a figure that is less than one percent of the emissions from the country's coal-fired power plants. 

Escrito por descriptiontvpus às 12h45
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