Following US president Barack Obama's pledge to further the fight against climate change, analysts have determined that the Keystone XL pipeline will have too big an environmental impact and so should not be constructed. The president recently announced plans to reduce carbon emissions throughout the US, which included blocking construction of the pipeline if it failed to meet new emissions targets.
The Keystone XL pipeline was designed to transport tar sands oil from Canada to the US. The use of tar sands oil has been greatly debated as the extraction and refining processes use large amounts of energy and release vast amounts of air pollution. A new analysis from the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) argues that continuing with plans for the pipeline could create between 935 million and 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases over the course of the 50-year project.
It has been argued by the tar sands industry and supporters of the project that the pipeline itself would not be detrimental to the fight against climate change as the oil will be produced anyway; using the State Department draft environmental assessment of the pipeline as the basis for their argument.
However, it is not just the construction and use of the pipeline that would result in more emissions, the use of tar sands oil produces more carbon dioxide than conventional oil. The construction of the pipeline could lead to more extraction sites being developed; meaning that use of the 'dirtier' oil would become more widespread.
Many state officials are applauding the president's new promise to reduce emissions in an effort to stall climate change and agree that the Keystone XL pipeline construction is not the best interests of the US or the world as a whole. Congressman Henry Waxman said that he believes the climate standard set by Mr Obama is right and if the Keystone XL pipeline cannot meet it, it should be rejected.
He added: "I am opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline. In the face of climate change, the last thing we should be doing is giving a green light to tripling production of tar sands, which are substantially more carbon polluting than conventional oil. I believe a rigorous analysis will show that the Keystone XL pipeline fails the test the president has set forth and must be denied."