Top U.S., Canadian Experts: Keystone XL Flunks President's Climate Test

Pollution From Pipeline Greater Than 50 Coal Plants, Cannot Be Offset

Dec 02, 2013, 11:59 ET from NextGen Climate Action

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Top North American experts on climate change, pollution offsets and financial markets met today to determine if the controversial Keystone XL pipeline can pass the climate test set by President Obama last June.

President Obama said he would only approve the pipeline if it "doesn't significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."

At the half-day summit, panels of experts explored this question in depth. They found that Keystone XL would create pollution equal to that from 50-57 coal plants, and that crucial pollution offset technology and practices were too undeveloped to compensate.

The summit, "Can Keystone Pass the President's Climate Test?" was hosted by NextGen Climate Action and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Summit experts Dr. John Abraham, professor of Thermal Sciences at the University of Thomas (Minnesota), and Dr. Mark Trexler, a climate risk expert, joined other U.S. and Canadian experts exploring the Keystone XL pipeline's carbon pollution footprint. They also discussed whether the pollution caused by the pipeline could be meaningfully offset.

Summit experts found:

  • Facts contradict the tar sands lobby's claim that tar sands oil is "coming out of the ground anyway," with or without Keystone XL. In fact, Keystone XL is the key enabling infrastructure that the tar sands industry needs to ramp up production.
  • Replacing Keystone XL-enabled tar sands production with energy efficiency steps would remove the pollution equivalent of 35-40 million cars.
  • Offsetting the increased pollution driven by Keystone XL with existing "carbon offset" practices would be extremely difficult. It would require a government oversight agency that does not currently exist and offsetting pollution at a level that has never before been attempted.
  • Any offsets would have to be real, measurable, verifiable and permanent.
  • Offsets were never intended to enable new big fossil fuel resources to be developed.
  • Providing offsets for Keystone XL could encourage other new, dirty energy sources when climate science is clear that we must rapidly develop cleaner – not dirtier – energy sources.

"Keystone XL is a line in the sand that will tell the world whether our nation has the capacity to be a global leader in addressing climate change," said event sponsor Tom Steyer, NextGen Climate Action Committee founder. "It's simple: Keystone XL is a bad deal for America that doesn't serve our national interest."

"The Center of American Progress Action Fund is proud to cosponsor this event to determine whether Keystone's additional pollution violates President Obama's standard," said Daniel J. Weiss, Center for American Progress Action Fund Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy. "Tom Steyer and other experts made it clear that the new pollution added by the pipeline flunks the president's test. Its permit should be rejected."

"Tar sands represents the dirtiest of the dirty," said Abraham. "If we don't say 'no' to tar sands, what will we say 'no' to?"

The summit brought together an in-person audience of over 100 organizations and opinion leaders in the U.S. and Canada, as well as a national online audience.

The summit is the latest in a series of actions taken by NextGen Climate Action to set the record straight about the impact of the Keystone XL. Over the past summer, NextGen Climate Action released a series of 90-second ads, "Bringing Down TransCanada's House of Cards: The Keystone Chronicles," narrated by Steyer from locations across the U.S.

The ads complement NextGen Climate Action's "People in the Path" online video series that featured stories from residents of communities through which the proposed pipeline would run. Nearly 200,000 Americans have signed an associated petition to President Obama urging him to reject Keystone XL.

For more information about the summit or NextGen Climate Action's activities related to the Keystone XL pipeline, go to:       

About NextGen Climate Action:
NextGen Climate Action was founded by investor Tom Steyer to act politically to avert climate disaster and preserve American prosperity. Learn more at:

About Center for American Progress Action Fund:
The Center for American Progress Action Fund is the sister advocacy organization of the Center for American Progress. The Action Fund transforms progressive ideas into policy through rapid response communications, legislative action, grassroots organizing and advocacy, and partnerships with other progressive leaders throughout the country and the world. The Action Fund is also the home of the Progress Report.

SOURCE NextGen Climate Action