We have heard some tall tales in our time, but this one reaches the stratosphere. On Tuesday, Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president for energy and oil pipelines, said that “You could shut down oil sands production tomorrow and it would have absolutely no measurable impact on climate change.” He stated that opponents of the pipeline have grossly inflated its significance on the issue of global warming. His claim came after a rally on Sunday in Washington by climate activists that drew upwards of 50,000 people. The quote was taken during a forum sponsored by a manufacturing group that supports the tar sands project.

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During the industry meeting held by the National Association of Manufacturers, Pourbaix said that Canada produces only 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and that the oil sands located in Alberta would make up only 5 percent of that total.

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

Pourbaix further went on to emphasize the pipeline’s safety, and touted the number of jobs that it would create. He also called Canada a leader on global climate change, pointing out that Alberta was one of the first in North America to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and has proposed the idea of instituting a carbon tax.

Critics, such as the organizer’s of Sunday’s rally including the Sierra Club and 350.org point out that tar sands emit up to 20 percent more greenhouse gasses than other sources as well as requiring more energy to transport and process. President Obama in his State of the Union address last week pledged to combat climate change, using his executive authority if Congress failed to come to an agreement. He has twice blocked the pipeline route, but has yet to hint as to how he will react to Nebraska’s governor and his approval of a section of the project through his state. Since the pipeline crosses an international border, the State Department has the final word, and both sides of the issue wait for the President to make the final decision.

Via The Guardian

Images via Wikicommons user Magnus Manske