WASHINGTON -- The State Department has drastically underestimated the damage the Keystone XL pipeline will do to the global climate, according to new research released Tuesday.
The report, authored by a coalition of environmental groups, uses industry figures to estimate that the pipeline will carry and emit at least an 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent each year -- an estimate far greater than the amount determined by the State Department in its draft Environmental Impact Statement. The State Department found the pipeline will have virtually no impact on climate change, arguing the emissions in question will be released regardless of the Keystone XL pipeline.
"Basing analysis on the assumption that oil use will continue as currently planned is accepting climate disaster," said the report's lead author, Steve Kretzmann of Oil Change International. "Acceptance of this climate disaster is simply morally wrong. It cannot and will not go unchallenged."
The State Department did not return an email requesting comment.
The environmental groups that released the report have made stopping the pipeline's construction the centerpiece of their advocacy; Oil Change International, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, 350.org and Friends of the Earth are among the organizations involved.
"Whether or not that crude would have been burned anyway is a separate question, involving a variety of economic assumptions, none of which are as robust as our understanding of atmospheric physics," the report says, indicating that if the oil was not transported by the pipeline, it likely would be transported another way.
"The science of climate change and human caused climate change in particular has become clear over the past several years and yet the crystal clear implications of this for policy are being ignored by government," said NASA scientist-turned-climate activist James Hansen. "The principal scientific fact is that we cannot burn all of the fossil fuels without creating unacceptable consequences for young people, future generations, and Mother Nature."