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Crop art protest of the Keystone XL pipeline. AP photo via NewsCred

EDITORIAL: Keystone XL pipeline needs Obama’s OK, not more excuses

Beaumont Enterprise (Beaumont, Texas)

If President Obama is still looking for reasons to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, he hasn’t found it — and he won’t. Specifically, he should ignore a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute that claims the pipeline would produce four times more carbon pollution than the U.S. State Department has estimated.

That study has three major flaws:

— It claims the pipeline would increase greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 121 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. That sounds like a lot, but even if it’s true it’s a fraction of the 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere each year worldwide. Any new supply of oil would produce the same effect, like the increased production from fracking and horizontal drilling.

— It says the new supply of oil would lower gasoline prices and lead to more consumption, which means more pollution. Gasoline prices are determined by a variety of factors, domestic and foreign. At most, the tar sands crude will keep prices stable in the U.S. rather than causing a glut of cheap gas.

Related: Keystone XL could mean more carbon emissions than estimated, study says

— Finally, Canada is going to sell its tar sands oil to someone if the United States won’t buy it. It is not going to simply sit on a resource worth tens of billions of dollars. Canada will likely sell the oil to China, which means transporting it by rail to Canada’s west coast and then by ship instead of a land-based pipeline, where the danger and impact of a spill are much smaller. The tar sands crude also would be refined in China, which has fewer pollution controls than the U.S. Clearly, the Keystone pipeline presents the best environmental option here.

The political games that have delayed the pipeline have gone on too long. President Obama has said he will approve it unless it significantly increases carbon pollution. There’s still no evidence that will happen, and he needs to stop making excuses to placate environmentalists.

He needs to show bold leadership — now — so the northern leg of it can brings jobs and oil to a weak recovery that needs both.



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