The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

National News

February 19, 2013

TransCanada: Pipeline would not affect climate

WASHINGTON — In a shift in strategy, the company that wants to build an oil pipeline from western Canada to Texas said Tuesday that the project will have no measurable effect on global warming.

Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president for energy and oil pipelines, said opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline have grossly inflated its likely impact on emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Canada represents just 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, Pourbaix said at a forum sponsored by a manufacturing group that supports the pipeline. Oil sands concentrated in Alberta, where the 1,700-mile pipeline would start, make up 5 percent of Canada’s total, Pourbaix said.

“Simple math tells us, therefore, that the oil sands represent only one-tenth of 1 percent of global greenhouse emissions,” he said. “Even if production from the oil sands were to double, the (greenhouse gas) contribution from the oil sands would be immaterial to global” greenhouse gas production.

Pourbaix’s comments came two days after a rally Sunday by pipeline opponents drew an estimated 35,000 people to Washington.  Organizers, including the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, billed the event as the largest climate rally in U.S. history. Thousands of people marched past the White House to urge President Barack Obama to reject the $7 billion pipeline and take other steps to fight climate change.

Opponents say the pipeline would carry “dirty oil” derived from tar sands that requires significantly more energy to produce than conventional crude oil and emits up to 20 percent more greenhouse gases.

At Tuesday’s forum, organized by the National Association of Manufacturers, Pourbaix took on the climate argument head-on.  He and other TransCanada executives have previously emphasized the pipeline’s safety, the jobs it will create and the fact the oil comes from a U.S. neighbor and ally.

“Our opponents are trying to make this debate about GHGs,” he said, referring to greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that are emitted as oil is produced and refined. “So let’s look at Canada’s contribution to global GHGs.”

Pourbaix called Canada a leader on climate change and noted that Alberta was the first jurisdiction in North America to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The province also has imposed a carbon tax, an action the Obama administration has said it will not propose.

Oil carried by Keystone will displace heavy crude from Venezuela, Nigeria and other countries that also contributes to global warming, Pourbaix said. “You could shut down oil sands production tomorrow and it would have absolutely no measurable impact on climate change,” he said.

Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, said Pourbaix’s comments appeared to be based on “some rather rosy assumptions” about oil sands production. First, the calculation does not take into account the energy cost of refining and transporting the oil from tar sands, not does it account for a huge reserve that could make the Alberta tar sands a key contributor to global warming in the future, he said.

By approving the Keystone XL pipeline and other projects, the U.S. would be encouraging increased development of the heavily-polluting tar sands oil, Mann said.

“We may be insuring that a much larger amount (of the oil reserves) will be economically viable,” he said.

Obama calls climate change a serious threat and has urged Congress to combat it. In his State of the Union address last week, Obama said he will use executive authority to cut greenhouse gas pollution if Congress fails to act.

Obama has twice thwarted the Keystone XL pipeline because of concerns over its route through sensitive land in Nebraska, but has not indicated how he will decide on the pipeline since Nebraska’s governor approved a new route last month. The State Department has authority over the project because it crosses an international border, but both sides on the issue expect Obama to make the final decision.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • Obama shows skepticism on Russia in Ukraine

    President Barack Obama conveyed skepticism Thursday about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United State and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn’t make good on its commitments.

    April 17, 2014

  • Judge in gay marriage case asks pointed questions

    A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions.

    April 17, 2014

  • Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find

    Secret Service investigators say they are close to gaining a full understanding of the methods hackers used to breach Target’s computer systems last December.

    April 17, 2014

  • Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies

    As political campaigns begin to heat up, the Supreme Court is deciding whether false accusations and mudslinging made during an election can be punished as a crime.

    April 16, 2014

  • Auto Show Nissan Hot _Cast.jpg Hot models at this year’s New York Auto Show

    With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the U.S. auto industry.

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • Transportation Blues 2.jpg Congress is giving states the transportation blues

    On the road in a tour bus this week, the U.S. transportation secretary is spreading some bad news: the government’s Highway Trust Fund is nearly broke.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Report: Russia withheld intel before Boston attack

    A yearlong review of information the U.S. intelligence community had prior to the Boston Marathon bombing found that the investigation could have been more thorough.

    April 11, 2014

  • Obama Health Secretary.jpg Obama announces Sebelius resignation, successor

    President Barack Obama praised outgoing Health and Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for helping to steer his health care law’s comeback after a rocky rollout, even as he nominated a successor aimed at helping the White House move past the political damage.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police seek driver in deadly Florida day care crash

    As mourners trickled by Thursday to honor the 4-year-old girl who was killed and 14 others injured in a crash at a Florida day care, authorities scoured the state for the driver they said fled in the vehicle that caused the fatal wreck.

    April 10, 2014

  • Stephen Colbert-Late _Cast.jpg Stephen Colbert to replace Letterman on late show

    CBS moved swiftly Thursday to replace the retiring David Letterman with Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, who will take over the “Late Show” next year and do battle with Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel for late-night television supremacy.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo