always make unpopular announcements fri p.m.

Governments and politicians know to wait until Friday afternoon to make potentially contentious, unpopular or controversial announcements. Most people don’t give a darn by then (weekend wheeee!), and the ones who do can have their weekends ruined.

So: the US State Department released its 2,000-page environmental impact statement on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would transport bitumen from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Since us normal folk have better things to do than read 2,000-page government reports on a Friday evening, here’s’s summary of the summaries and reactions on NYT, WaPo and Mother Jones.

There are a bunch of interesting points. First, I call BS on the State Dept’s argument of “Oh, we might as well build KXL, since the Canadians are going to develop the tar sands even if we don’t”. The Conservative government’s alternatives should the US reject KXL are limited to two (west to China or east to the Maritimes) and face far more domestic opposition. A US rejection would also send a strong message – esp if greenhouse gas emissions and climate change were cited as reasons – that would resonate through Canada/the world. Even the US doesn’t want the crude! How dirty are those tar sands?

As Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska says:

The State Department’s assumption that tar sands development does not change with or without this pipeline is wrong and laughable. Why would TransCanada spend billions on building the pipeline and millions on lobbying unless this piece of infrastructure is the — not a — but the linchpin for the expansion of tar sands?

Second, the claim that oil sands crude emits 5-15% more GHG than conventional oil is weak/misleading/inaccurate, depending on which study you consult. The recent European Commission report (itself compiled from many other reports and analyses) puts the number at 13-41%.

Third point is one of the few non-aggravating claims of the State Dept’s statement: that KXL won’t change the US’s ability to meet its own energy demands. Then why would you need KXL?



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