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    October 31, 2011 | 8:22 AM

    Keystone XL Pipeline: All pain, no gain

    © 2005 David Dodge, The Pembina Institute

    This weekend, thousands of people will gather outside the White House to demand that President Obama stop the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would have a devastating impact on our global climate. If approved, this pipeline would bring dirty oil sludge (or "tar sands") from Alberta, Canada to refineries in the U.S. gulf coast for almost fifty years.

    Here are some numbers that will give you a sense of what tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline mean for climate change:

    • Under one scenario assessed by the EPA, the pipeline could result in the release of 1.15 billion additional tons worth of carbon pollution into the atmosphere over its lifetime, which is nearly 7 times China's annual emissions.
    • The EPA estimates that annual well-to-tank greenhouse gas pollution from the Keystone XL pipeline could be as much as 82% higher than average crude refined in America, amounting to an additional 27 million metric tons of carbon pollution.
    • Even the most conservative of estimates suggest that synthetic crude oil from Alberta's tar sands releases 17% to 25% more greenhouse gases than the current U.S. average.
    • A lifecycle analysis from "well to wheels" shows that oil from Canadian tar sands has a larger carbon footprint than any other fossil-fuel based transportation fuel on the planet.

    Thus, no matter how you look at it, the tar sands are terrible news for our climate.

    Advocates of the pipeline choose to ignore tar sands' devastating impact on our climate and claim it would reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Now for the facts. The Keystone XL pipeline is an export pipeline. It would transport oil across the United States from Canada to Texas. The fuel produced from the tar sands will be sold on the world market to the highest bidder. It does not have to go to gas stations in the United States. So how does that reduce America's dependence on foreign oil? And since oil prices are also set on the world market, this pipeline would not significantly impact the price of gasoline.

    The only sure way to end our reliance on oil from hostile countries is to reduce our dependence on all fossil fuels. And here's the best part: We have the solutions at hand. The latest fuel efficiency standards from the U.S. EPA will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of vehicles sold between 2012 and 2016. And that's a lot more oil than we could ever hope to get from the pipeline. The Department of Defense, one of the largest consumers of fuel in the world, is aggressively pursuing clean energy and electric vehicles to reduce its carbon footprint. The U.S. Army is transitioning to the use of over 4,000 electric vehicles, saving more 300,000 barrels of fuel. And the Navy's fuel-efficient ships helped reduce their energy demand by more than 1.1 million barrels in 2008 alone.

    The Keystone XL pipeline would send more carbon pollution into the air and make us even more reliant on oil. That's a price we don't need to pay. Join the gathering at the White House and add your voice this weekend to the thousands who know that building this pipeline is unnecessary for America's interests, and unacceptable for the planet's climate.

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