Construction of the Keystone pipeline could increase emissions, says EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued comments on the State Department’s environmental analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline. The State Department issued its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in January 2014.

In a letter to the State Department, Cynthia Giles, the EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, noted the Department’s efforts to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of Keystone in its most recent environmental analysis: “The Department has strengthened the analysis of oil spill prevention preparedness, response and mitigation and has committed to requiring numerous mitigation measures regarding leak prevention and detection, as well as spill cleanup measures.”

However, Giles went on to state that the development of the Canadian oil sands “represents a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions" compared to other types of oil: “The Final SEIS also finds that the incremental greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction, transport, refining and use of the 830 000 bpd of oils sands crude that could be transported by the proposed project at full capacity would result in an additional 1.3 to 27.4 million tpy of carbon dioxide equivalents compared to the reference crudes. To put that in perspective, 27.4 million tpy of carbon dioxide equivalents is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 5.7 million passenger vehicles or 7.8 coal fired power plants. Over the 50-year lifetime of the pipeline, this could translate into releasing as much as 1.37 billion more tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”

In response to the EPA’s comments, Rainforest Action Network Climate Program Director Amanda Starbuck issued the following statement: “The EPA’s comments today on Keystone XL confirm what we’ve long known to be true: that this pipeline would be an utter disaster for the climate. For a President who has pledged to reject the pipeline if it fails the climate test, these comments should be the final verdict on the matter. We look forward to President Obama heeding the EPA’s words and putting this pipeline to rest once and for all.”

Access the EPA’s letter to the State Department here.

Edited from various sources by Rosalie Starling

Published on 04/02/2015

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