The much-debated Keystone XL pipeline could increase global warming pollution by as much four times the amount estimated by the U.S. State Department, according to a new study by an independent non-profit research organization.
Without mentioning that the State Department's own environmental impact report may have been hopelessly compromised by "corporate conflicts of interest," Los Angeles Times offered an important article discussing the findings of the new report published Sunday by the journal Nature Climate Change.
The State Department's dubious estimate of the Keystone XL's anticipated impact on increased carbon emissions is critical to President Barack Obama's determination as to whether he will approve the controversial tar sands oil project since, as noted by the scientists who authored the report at the Stockholm Environment Institute, the President has stated that "he would only approve the Keystone XL pipeline…if it 'does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.'"
This new report may alter his calculation of exacerbated emissions expected to occur from building the massive pipeline that would ship dirty tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico for export, as the LA Times' Neela Banerjee explains in her article, headlined in the print version as "Grim estimates on pipeline"...
The new study estimates that emissions could be 100 million to 110 million metric tons every year, "or four times the upper State Department estimate," the authors wrote.
The dramatic difference in the two estimates, according to the Stockholm Environment Institute's scientists, was based on the State Department's failure to factor in increased consumption that would likely result from a marginal drop in the global price of oil thanks to an increased supply.
According to Seth Borenstein's coverage for AP, the report's lead author, Peter Erickson, "said his work implies that the pipeline could basically wipe out reductions from some potential pollution-cutting policies under discussion."
Erickson is likely referring to the proposed new rule by Obama's EPA which would slash carbon emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030.
While it is nice that the L.A. Times actually covered this important study, it's disappointing that they not only failed to mention the conflict-of-interest concerns of the State Department's report and that the estimated increase in emissions could undermine Obama's otherwise historic efforts to decrease carbon pollution, but that the paper buried their story finding that the U.S. may have vastly underestimated increased carbon emissions on page A-11, amidst commercial ads and a "Dilbert" cartoon.