Washington, D.C. – This week, as one of the largest fires in Northern California continues to devastate more than 180,000 acres and is threatening beloved Yosemite National Park, Environment America joined Oil Change International, the Sierra Club, and 350.org to release a new report, “Responding to the President's Climate Challenge: A Failing Grade for Keystone XL.”
Scientists say that as carbon pollution in the atmosphere continues to fuel global warming, hotter and drier summers could lead to longer and faster-burning fires. And future generations are endangered by more than wildfires: four out of five Americans live in areas affected by weather-related disasters since 2007.
Responding to more frequent and severe extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy, President Obama unveiled his administration’s plan to combat global warming at Georgetown University this June. In that speech, the president said, “Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest, and our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”
“Our message with this report today is clear: Wildfires devastating Yosemite are not in our national interest, and neither is the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,” said Anna Aurilio, D.C. Director for Environment America.
In the wake of global warming-fueled disaster that has destroyed property, upended communities, and tragically, cut American lives short this summer, this report demonstrates that exploiting Canada’s tar sands and building the Keystone pipeline represents an enormous threat to our climate and future generations.
The report’s findings include the following:
• According to the oil industry's own reports, the Keystone pipeline would add 130 million metric tons of carbon pollution per year, which is the equivalent of 37 coal-fired power plants.
• The approval of the Keystone pipeline could lead to a 36 percent increase in tar sands exploitation.
• Facilitating the development of tar sands oil – which emits 22 percent more global warming pollution than burning conventional oil – would be a devastating blow in the fight to protect our climate.
“If we are going to protect our world and future generations from the devastating impacts of global warming, we cannot allow oil companies to build the Keystone pipeline and continue their plans to triple tar sands production by 2020,” added Aurilio. “The case against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is as simple as a nightmarish version of ‘A Field of Dreams:’ if we build it, massive global warming pollution will come.”
A wide range of stakeholders and experts agree that building the Keystone pipeline will increase tar sands production and therefore dramatically increase global warming pollution. These experts include: The country’s leading climate scientists, the Environmental Protection Agency, leading financial analysts such as Goldman Sachs, and again, the oil industry itself.
Alarms are also sounding over other prospective routes for tar sands pipelines. The proposal to build a pipeline to the East has run into opposition from First Nations peoples and the provincial government of British Columbia. Similar proposals for routing tar sands oil have encountered organized resistance from thousands of activists and community groups in Vermont, Maine and Quebec.
“President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have both been historic champions of the movement to stop global warming,” concluded Aurilio. “We call on both of these leaders to protect Americans now and in the future and to just say no to the Keystone XL pipeline and to tar sands oil.”