Editor's Blog

NYT: State Dept’s Keystone XL report neglects long-term CO2 impact

The Times editors weigh in on Obama’s impending oil sands pipeline decision, arguing for a rejection. “In itself, the Keystone pipeline will not push the world into a climate apocalypse. But it will continue to fuel our appetite for oil and add to the carbon load in the atmosphere,” they conclude. “There is no need to accept it.”

On the way to that conclusion they took a shot at the recent State Department report on the potential environmental impact of the Keystone XL pipeline:

To its credit, the State Department acknowledges that extracting, refining and burning the oil from the tar-laden sands is a dirtier process than it had previously stated, yielding annual greenhouse gas emissions roughly 17 percent higher than the average crude oil used in the United States. But its dry language understates the environmental damage involved: the destruction of the forests that lie atop the sands and are themselves an important storehouse for carbon, and the streams that flow through them. And by focusing on the annual figure, it fails to consider the cumulative year-after-year effect of steadily increasing production from a deposit that is estimated to hold 170 billion barrels of oil that can be recovered with today’s technology and may hold 10 times that amount altogether.

-- Mike Orcutt

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