On May 7, the House Science Committee held a joint hearing of two of its key panels to discuss the science behind the Keystone pipeline. Again, it was made clear that opponents have exaggerated and misconstrued the Keystone proposal and the record of pipelines in the US in a vain attempt to prove their points. We hope that the pipeline can move forward as soon as possible.
One issue discussed at the hearing was the impact of the project on carbon emissions. I have long maintained that there is virtually no environmental impact because of carbon emissions due to the operation of the pipeline. We heard testimony that 'no matter how the additional carbon dioxide emissions are calculated, the Keystone XL pipeline has an exceedingly and inconsequentially small impact on projected the course of global temperature...The change in global average temperature resulting from the EPA's additional 18.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year from the Keystone XL pipeline, would be about 0.00001°C per year--that is one one-hundred thousandths of a degree.' Indeed, if opponents delay or stop the pipeline, the markets for this Canadian crude may be thousands of miles further way and transportation options would be less energy efficient, ironically increasing the carbon released in getting it overseas or US markets.
One trade press article (InsideEPA) suggested that EPA could clamp down on carbon emissions from refineries as a response to allowing the free flow of Canadian oil-sand crudes to our Texas refineries. I am strongly opposed to the EPA imposing carbon control standards on America's refineries. First, the EPA cannot be trusted with expansions in their regulatory authority given EPA's failure to abide by cost-benefit principles, its overbroad enforcement activities, and its lack of transparency. Second, the Clean Air Act would not allow EPA to discriminate among different crude types based on the ways by which they were extracted. Third, discriminating against certain crudes runs counter to American interests in energy security and economic recovery. At the House Science hearing, I further suggested that carbon concerns are not an appropriate basis to delay the Keystone pipeline. The government is already considering ways to deal with energy efficiency and carbon concerns, but I believe that private industry is addressing these issues without EPA mandates.
All in all, it is time for the President to move forward with Keystone as soon as possible. Job creation, national security, consumer protection, and environmental considerations all strongly support approval of the pipeline.