In February, TransCanada President Alex Pourbaix assured the world that the Keystone XL Pipeline wouldn’t have any impact on climate change — a statement that was met with more than just a little eye rolling and raised eyebrows. But the opinion was later echoed by the State Department, which issued a report claiming that the pipeline would have little environmental impact. Now, a new report from environmental group Oil Change International reveals how ridiculous that opinion truly is.
According to the report, the pipeline will result in the release of an additional 181 million metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year, which is the same as adding nearly 38 million cars to the road or 51 new coal plants to the planet. The question isn’t if the pipeline will impact climate change, but exactly how devastating it will be.
The big assumption is that the tar sand oil is going to be burned, regardless of who does the piping. But the report points out that nothing is inevitable. The tar sands are an unattractive option for development unless the oil is moved, meaning that if the pipeline isn’t put in place, the area won’t be developed.
The report states that “there is a climate impact from burning 830,000 barrels per day of any crude that cannot be ignored. This is a matter of physics, and not subject to debate.” In order to determine the true impact of the project, the State Department needs to factor in whether the project is needed in a world where carbon needs to be decreased, not increased.