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More than 100 scientists and economists call for rejection of Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

Elizabeth Shope

Posted April 7, 2014 in Curbing Pollution, Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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Today, more than 100 scientists and economists called on President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that would bring some of the world’s dirtiest fuel from under Canada’s Boreal forest to the Gulf Coast mainly for export. They write in the letter, “The world is looking to the United States to lead through strong climate action at home. This includes rejecting projects that will make climate change worse such as the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.” The letter comes at a critical time when President Obama and Secretary Kerry are in the process of making their determination about whether the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is in the national interest. The signers of the letter are leaders in science and economics, including in climate change research. They added their voices to the 2 million public comments sent to President Obama and Secretary Kerry calling for a rejection of Keystone XL, and to the more than 200 business voices whose letter to Secretary Kerry calling for rejection of Keystone XL was released last week.  

The scientists and economists write to President Obama and Secretary Kerry:

As you both have made clear, climate change is a very serious problem. We must address climate change by decarbonizing our energy supply. A critical first step is to stop making climate change worse by tapping into disproportionately carbon-intensive energy sources like tar sands bitumen. The Keystone XL pipeline will drive expansion of the energy-intensive strip-mining and drilling of tar sands from under Canada’s Boreal forest, increasing global carbon emissions. Keystone XL is a step in the wrong direction.   

Fuels produced from tar sands cause 17% more greenhouse gas emissions than conventionally produced fuels over their full lifecycle, and, as the scientists note, “over the 50-year expected lifespan of the pipeline, the total emissions from Keystone XL could amount to as much as 8.4 billion metric tons CO2e. These are emissions that can and should be avoided with a transition to clean energy.” Tar sands extraction also causes significant air and water pollution; communities downstream are experiencing high rates of rare cancers and other health problems; transporting tar sands is risky; and refining tar sands causes pollution and public health problems.  

So it’s no wonder that so many prominent scientists and economists are expressing concern about this risky project. And it is not the first time that scientists have expressed concern with past letters to President Obama in August 2011, to Congressional Leadership in February 2012, and to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July 2012. With this latest letter, the number of scientists speaking out has grown considerably.

The list of signers to this most recent scientist and economist letter includes:

  • Dr. Philip W. Anderson, who won the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physics alongside Sir Nevill Francis Mott and John Hasbrouck van Vleck. They won the prize ”for their fundamental theoretical investigations of the electronic structure of magnetic and disordered systems.”
  • Dr. Kenneth J. Arrow, who won the 1972 Nobel Prize in Economics (officially titled “The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”) alongside John Hicks “for their pioneering contributions to general economic equilibrium theory and welfare theory.” Dr. Arrow has had a profound impact on the field of economics, going on to teach five other Nobel prize winners and receiving the National Medal of Science in 2004 – the nation’s highest scientific honor – for his contributions to the field. Dr. Arrow has also served as a convening lead author for IPCC assessments. 
  • Numerous lead authors and coordinating lead authors for United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment reports.
  • Fellows of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) including Dr. James McCarthy, Dr. Richard Norgaard, and Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, and Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) including Dr. Mark Jaccard, Dr. Lawrence Dill, and Dr. Mark Winston. AAAS indicates that “Election as a Fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers. Fellows are recognized for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications.” Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada are “Canadian scholars, artists, and scientists, peer-elected as the best in their field. The fellowship of the RSC comprises distinguished men and women from all branches of learning who have made remarkable contributions in the arts, the humanities and the sciences, as well as in Canadian public life.”
  • Winners of Heinz Awards in the Environment, and in the Human Condition – including Dr. Gretchen Daily, Drs. Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Dr. George Woodwell, Dr. James Hansen, and Dr. Michael Oppenheimer. The Heinz Award in the Human Condition “honors individuals who have developed and implemented significant new programs to improve the human condition,” while the Heinz Award in the Environment “honors individuals who like John Heinz, have confronted environmental concerns with a spirit of innovation and who demonstrate the same blend of action and creativity in approaching the protection of our environment.”
  • Winners of the Volvo Environment Prize, which is awarded for “Outstanding innovations or scientific discoveries,” including Dr. Paul Ehrlich, who won it jointly with John Holdren (now President Obama’s senior advisor on science and technology issues) in 1993; Dr. George Woodwell (2001), and Gretchen Daily (2012).
  • Leading Canadian scientists and economists including Dr. David Suzuki, a renowned geneticist and science broadcaster; Dr. Mark Jaccard, who has contributed a large body of research regarding the design and application of energy-economy models that assess the effectiveness of sustainable energy and climate policies, including serving as a convening lead author for the Global Energy Assessment; and  Dr. David Keith, 2006 winner of Canadian Geographic’s “Environmentalist of the Year” – who is both a Harvard Professor and President of a Calgary, Alberta company that works on ways to capture carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere.

This list does not even begin to touch the accomplishments, awards, and contributions to society of the scientists and economists who signed this letter. These are important voices for President Obama and Secretary Kerry to listen to. If you want to weigh in, you can add you voice at www.stoptar.org. You can also join NRDC, Sierra Club, 350.org and other groups in Washington, DC on April 26, 2014 when we join with the Cowboy Indian Alliance to call on President Obama to Reject Keystone XL and protect our land, air, water, and climate.

Tar sands mine in Alberta Canada Credit Jennifer Grant The Pembina Institute.jpg

Tar Sands Mine in Alberta, Canada. Credit: Jennifer Grant/The Pembina Institute.

The full letter text follows:

April 7, 2014

Dear President Obama and Secretary Kerry,

As scientists and economists, we are concerned about climate change and its impacts. We urge you to reject the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline as a project that will contribute to climate change at a time when we should be doing all we can to put clean energy alternatives in place.

As you both have made clear, climate change is a very serious problem. We must address climate change by decarbonizing our energy supply. A critical first step is to stop making climate change worse by tapping into disproportionately carbon-intensive energy sources like tar sands bitumen. The Keystone XL pipeline will drive expansion of the energy-intensive strip-mining and drilling of tar sands from under Canada’s Boreal forest, increasing global carbon emissions. Keystone XL is a step in the wrong direction.   

President Obama, you said in your speech in Georgetown last year that “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.”

We agree that climate impact is important and evidence shows that Keystone XL will significantly contribute to climate change. Fuels produced from tar sands result in more greenhouse gas emissions over their lifecycle than fuels produced from conventional oil, including heavy crudes processed in some Gulf Coast refineries. As the main pathway for tar sands to reach overseas markets, the Keystone XL pipeline would cause a sizeable expansion of tar sands production and also an increase in the related greenhouse gas pollution. The State Department review confirmed this analysis under the scenario that best meets the reality of the opposition to alternative pipeline proposals and the higher costs of other ways of transporting diluted bitumen such as rail. The review found:

“The total lifecycle emissions associated with production, refining, and combustion of 830,000 bpd of oil sands crude oil is approximately 147 to 168 MMTCO2e per year. The annual lifecycle GHG emissions from 830,000 bpd of the four reference crudes examined in this section are estimated to be 124 to 159 MMTCO2e. The range of incremental GHG emissions for crude oil that would be transported by the proposed Project is estimated to be 1.3 to 27.4 MMTCO2e annually.”

To put these numbers into perspective, the potential incremental annual emissions of 27.4 MMTCO2e is more than the emissions that seven coal-fired power plants emit in one year. And over the 50-year expected lifespan of the pipeline, the total emissions from Keystone XL could amount to as much as 8.4 billion metric tons CO2e. These are emissions that can and should be avoided with a transition to clean energy.

The contribution of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to climate change is real and important, especially given the commitment of the United States and other world leaders to stay within two degrees Celsius of global warming. And yet, the State Department environmental review chose an inconsistent model for its “most likely” scenarios, using business-as-usual energy scenarios that would lead to a catastrophic six degrees Celsius rise in global warming.  Rejecting Keystone XL is necessary for the United States to be consistent with its climate commitments. Six degrees Celsius of global warming has no place in a sound climate plan.

Secretary Kerry, in your speech in Jakarta, you said, “The science of climate change is leaping out at us like a scene from a 3D movie – warning us – compelling us to act.” Rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would be a decision based on sound science.

The world is looking to the United States to lead through strong climate action at home. This includes rejecting projects that will make climate change worse such as the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. 

Sincerely,

John Abraham, Ph.D.

Professor

University of St. Thomas

 

Philip W. Anderson, Ph.D.

Nobel Prize (Physics 1977)

Emeritus Professor

Princeton University

 

Tim Arnold, Ph.D.

Assistant Project Scientist

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

 

Kenneth J. Arrow, Ph.D.

Nobel Prize (Economics 1972)

Professor emeritus of Economics and of Management Science and Engineering

Stanford University

 

Roger Bales, Ph.D.

Professor of Engineering

University of California, Merced 

 

Paul H. Beckwith, M.S.

Part-time professor: climatology/meteorology

Department of Geography

University of Ottawa

 

Anthony Bernhardt, Ph.D.

Physicist and Program Leader (retired)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

 

Damien C. Brady, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Marine Science

Darling Marine Center

University of Maine

 

Julie A. Brill, Ph.D.

Director, Collaborative Program in Developmental Biology, and Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics

University of Toronto

Senior Scientist, Cell Biology Program

The Hospital for Sick Children

 

Gary Brouhard, Ph.D.

Department of Biology

McGill University

 

Ken Caldeira, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

Carnegie Institution for Science

 

Grant Cameron, Ph.D.

Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP)

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

 

Shelagh D. Campbell, Ph.D.

Professor, Biological Sciences

University of Alberta

 

Kai M. A. Chan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor & Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services)

Graduate Advisor, RMES Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability

University of British Columbia

 

Eugene Cordero, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Meteorology and Climate Science

San Jose State University

 

Rosemary Cornell, Ph.D.

Professor, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Simon Fraser University

 

Gretchen C. Daily, Ph.D.

Bing Professor of Environmental Science

Stanford University

 

Timothy Daniel, Ph.D.

Economist

U.S. Federal Trade Commission

 

Miriam Diamond, Ph.D.

Professor

Department of Earth Sciences

Cross-appointed to:

Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Sciences

Dalla Lana School of Public Health

School of the Environment

Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences

University of Toronto

 

Lawrence M. Dill, Ph.D., FRSC

Professor Emeritus

Simon Fraser University

 

Simon Donner, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Geography

University of British Columbia

 

Roland Droitsch, Ph.D.

President

KM21 Associates

 

Nicholas Dulvy, Ph.D.

Professor, Canada Research Chair in Marine Biodiversity

and Conservation Biological Sciences

Simon Fraser University

 

Steve Easterbrook, Ph.D.

Professor of Computer Science

University of Toronto

 

Anne Ehrlich, Ph.D.

Biology Department

Stanford University

 

Paul R. Ehrlich, Ph.D.

Bing Professor of Population Studies and

President, Center for Conservation Biology

Stanford University

 

Henry Erlich, Ph.D.

Scientist

Center for Genetics

Children’s Hospital Research Institute

 

Alejandro Frid, Ph.D.

Science Coordinator

Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance

 

Konrad Gajewski, Ph.D.

Laboratory for Paleoclimatology and Climatology

Department of Geography

University of Ottawa

 

Eric Galbraith, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Earth and Planetary Science

McGill University

 

Geoffrey Gearheart, Ph.D.

Scientist, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Biomedicine

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

 

Alexander J. Glass, Ph.D.

Emeritus Associate Director

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

 

John R. Glover, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Biochemistry

University of Toronto

 

Ursula Goodenough, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Biology

Washington University in St. Louis

 

Stephanie Green, Ph.D.

David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow

Oregon State University

 

Steven Hackett, Ph.D.

Professor of Economics

Associated Faculty, Energy Technology & Policy

Humboldt State University

 

Joshua B. Halpern, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Chemistry

Howard University

 

Alexandra Hangsterfer, M.S.

Geological Collections Manager

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

 

James Hansen, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor

Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions

Columbia University Earth Institute

 

John Harte, Ph.D.

Professor of Ecosystem Sciences

Energy and Resources Group

University of California, Berkeley

 

H. Criss Hartzell, Ph.D.

Professor

Emory University School of Medicine

 

Danny Harvey, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Geography

University of Toronto

 

Rodrick A. Hay, Ph.D.

Dean and Professor of Geography

College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences

California State University Dominguez Hills

 

Karen Holl, Ph.D.

Professor of Environmental Studies

University of California, Santa Cruz

 

Robert Howarth, Ph.D.

The David R. Atkinson Professor of

Ecology & Environmental Biology

Cornell University

 

Jonathan Isham, Jr., Ph.D.

Professor of Economics

Middlebury College

 

Andrew Iwaniuk, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

University of Lethbridge

 

Mark Jaccard, Ph.D., FRSC

Professor

School of Resource and Environmental Management

Simon Fraser University

 

Louise E. Jackson, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources

University of California Davis

 

Pete Jumars, Ph.D.

Professor of Marine Sciences

Darling Marine Center

University of Maine

 

David Keith, Ph.D.

Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS); and,

Professor of Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government

Harvard University

 

Jeremy T. Kerr, Ph.D.

University Research Chair in

Macroecology and Conservation

Professor of Biology

University of Ottawa

 

Bryan Killett, Ph.D.

Jet Propulsion Lab

 

Keith W. Kisselle, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology & Environmental Science

Academic Chair of Center for Environmental Studies

Austin College

 

Janet E. Kübler, Ph.D.

Senior Research Scientist

California State University at Northridge

 

Sherman Lewis, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Political Science

California State University Hayward

 

Michael E. Loik, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies

University of California, Santa Cruz

 

Michael C. MacCracken, Ph.D.

Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs

Climate Institute

 

Scott A. Mandia, M.S.

Professor/Asst. Chair, Department of Physical Sciences

Suffolk County Community College

 

Michael Mann, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor and Director of Earth System Science Center

Penn State University

 

Adam Martiny, Ph.D.

Associate Professor in Marine Science

Department of Earth System Science

University of California, Irvine

 

Damon Matthews, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and

Concordia University Research Chair

Geography, Planning and Environment

Concordia University

 

James J. McCarthy, Ph.D.

Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography

Harvard University

 

Susan K. McConnell, Ph.D.

Susan B. Ford Professor

Dunlevie Family University Fellow

Department of Biology

Stanford University

 

Dominick Mendola, Ph.D.

Senior Development Engineer

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

 

Faisal Moola, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Forestry

University of Toronto; and,

Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies

York University

 

William Moomaw, Ph.D.

Professor, The Fletcher School

Tufts University

 

Jens Mühle, Dr. rer. nat.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

 

Richard B. Norgaard, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Energy and Resources

University of California, Berkeley

 

Gretchen North, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

Occidental College

 

Dana Nuccitelli, M.S.

Environmental Scientist

Tetra Tech, Inc.

 

Michael Oppenheimer, Ph.D.

Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs

Princeton University

 

Wendy J. Palen, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Earth to Ocean Research Group

Simon Fraser University

 

Edward A. Parson, Ph.D.

Dan and Rae Emmett Professor of Environmental Law

Faculty Co-Director

Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment

UCLA School of Law

 

Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, Ph.D.

Louis Block Professor in the Geophysical Sciences

The University of Chicago

 

Richard Plevin, Ph.D.

Research Scientist

NextSTEPS (Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways)

Institute of Transportation Studies

University of California, Davis

 

John Pollack, M.S.

Meteorologist; and,

National Weather Service forecaster (retired)

 

Jessica Dawn Pratt, Ph.D.

Education & Outreach Coordinator

Center for Environmental Biology

University of California, Irvine

 

Lynne M. Quarmby, Ph.D.

Professor & Chair

Molecular Biology & Biochemistry

Simon Fraser University

 

Rebecca Rolph, M.S.

Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

Hamburg, Germany; and,

Klimacampus, University of Hamburg

 

Thomas Roush, MD

Columbia University School of Public Health (retired)

 

Maureen Ryan, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Simon Fraser University; and,

Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Washington

 

Anne K. Salomon, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

School of Resource and Environmental Management

Simon Fraser University

 

Casey Schmidt, Ph.D.

Assistant Research Professor

Desert Research Institute

Division of Hydrologic Sciences

 

Peter C. Schulze, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology & Environmental Science
Director, Center for Environmental Studies

Austin College

 

Jason Scorse, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Monterrey Institute of International Studies

Middlebury College

 

Jamie Scott, MD, Ph.D.

Professor and Canada Research Chair

Department of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry

Faculty of Science and Faculty of Health Sciences

Simon Fraser University

 

Michael A. Silverman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Simon Fraser University

 

Leonard S. Sklar, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Earth & Climate Sciences Department

San Francisco State University

 

Jerome A. Smith, Ph.D.

Research Oceanographer

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

 

Richard C. J. Somerville, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

 

Brandon M. Stephens, M.S.

Graduate Student Researcher

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

 

John M. R. Stone, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor

Carleton University

 

David Suzuki, Ph.D.

Emeritus Professor

Sustainable Development Research Institute

University of British Columbia

 

Jennifer Taylor, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

University of California, San Diego

 

Michael S. Tift, M.S.

Doctoral Student

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

 

Cali Turner Tomaszewicz, M.S.

Doctoral Student, Biological Sciences

Department of Ecology, Behavior & Evolution

University of California, San Diego

 

Till Wagner, Ph.D.

Scientist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

 

Barrie Webster, Ph.D.

Professor (retired)

University of Manitoba

 

Richard Weinstein, Ph.D.

Lecturer

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

 

Anthony LeRoy Westerling, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of

Environmental Engineering and Geography

University of California, Merced 

 

Mark L. Winston, Ph.D., FRSC

Academic Director and Fellow, Center for Dialogue

Simon Fraser University

 

George M. Woodwell, Ph.D.

Member, National Academy of Sciences, and

Founder and Director Emeritus

The Woods Hole Research Center

 

Kirsten Zickfeld, Ph.D.

Professor of Climatology

Simon Fraser University

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Comments

ray del colleApr 7 2014 10:42 AM

"Is it too hard to go to the moon, eradicate smallpox or end apartheid? Is it too hard to build a computer that fits in your pocket? No? Then it's not too hard to build a clean energy future, either." http://clmtr.lt/c/Fq80fz0cMJ

Louis FockeApr 7 2014 06:02 PM

It is past time stop using an energy source that I'd making our one and as yet only planet we live on uninhabitable for the human race. Let's show the rest of the world that we need me what we preach.
As a nation let's stop advancing to use of oil and its by products and how it kills the planet, take the money we would have spent on this disasterous pipeline and spend it on alternative energy sources research. It's the only logical and sayings things to do.

A Proud CanadianApr 7 2014 06:29 PM

What I find interesting is that these scientists have a vested interest in signing on to such a letter. Any reduction in oilsands production begins to constrain oil markets and ultimately reduce demand through price increases. This is exactly what you want when you have chosen fields such as environmental science to work in. In fact environmental law is similar. Job security....... and like you say in your bio….. it’s your job.
When one looks at the oilsands they see one of the more carbon intensive manifestation of our carbon based energy infrastructure. However as I’ve written in response to other articles on the subject…. on this website, supply side restriction strategies are ultimately self-defeating. Unintended consequences range from increased rail capacity being built for moving oil by rail, increased focus and importance on building more pipelines within Canada to its coasts, the ultimate rise in energy costs as supplies are constrained and safe/efficient transportation avenues are blocked, and finally a move from one form of carbon intensive supply to even worse sources (e.g. artic oil, kerogen in oil shale, ultra-deep oil). Furthermore, if you look at recent data, there are many other more carbon intensive forms of oil being brought into the US as we speak, however I don’t hear a peep from folks about those. Even worse, many of them are OPEC sources.
The only reasonable way of reducing oil production is through the elimination of demand through affordable less carbon intensive alternatives. As those arrive then oil demand drops, and with that the most expensive (i.e. carbon intensive) to produce are eliminated first.
So you really have 2 choices…. Supply restriction driving up prices and creating demand destruction (remember 2008 and $148/bbl oil and financial collapse) or demand reduction through alternatives which ultimately keep carbon intensive sources in the ground, energy affordable, and a modern economy intact.
Many will say…. “Well why can’t we do both? Every little bit helps right?” What you will find is that not every little bit helps. Every little bit directed at the right solutions helps. Effort constraining one fuel against the next just brings on the wave of unintended consequences.
Finally I say to you that Scientists and engineers will get this done. They will create the renewables that we need. It won’t be by chaining ourselves to fences and throwing around hyperbolic rhetoric. Let’s focus our energy on the real solution.
Regards,
A Proud Canadian
P.S. I notice that you use the term “tar sand”. You may wish to follow the lead of the US State Department in their proper use of the term oilsand in their report. Just for future reference.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask. I can direct you to publically available information to help as well.

Dora O. FarmerApr 7 2014 06:34 PM

Please stop this atrocity from happening. Our planet is too fragile now especially our own US territory.
Dora O. Farmer

Elizabeth ShopeApr 7 2014 06:56 PM

Thanks all for your comments! @A Proud Canadian- you are totally right that the way to reduce oil production is through the elimination of demand through affordable less carbon intensive alternatives. Unfortunately, the Canadian Government & Alberta Government & tar sands industry have been lobbying against these alternatives in hopes of being able to continue to expand their production. See: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/sclefkowitz/canada_-_pushing_arguments_of.html. Rejecting Keystone XL is an important step in curbing the power of the tar sands industry and helping to make this transition to clean energy, rather than building expensive infrastructure to support this extra dirty fuel for decades to come.

Also, regarding my job, in fact, if we manage to stop the expansion of tar sands and dirty fuels, I might actually be out of a job and would need to change careers! I think I can speak for most of us fighting climate change that we'd love to find ourselves in that position -- out of a job after solving the problem. But, in the meantime, many of the scientists and economists on the letter and making important technical and policy innovations to help curb climate change. And I feel lucky to know and have worked with a number of these scientists and economists -- Canadian and American.

A Proud CanadianApr 7 2014 08:37 PM

Hi Elizabeth,
Thanks for the prompt reply .... much appreciated.
I was interested in reading the content of the link but it didn't work. Could you reply with the updated link.
Regards,
A Proud Canadian

billApr 7 2014 08:47 PM

As a letter many may have received from the President he intends to base it on climate change. This is a red flag that the numbers will be distorted and the other great harms from cancers to water spills to carbon pollution deaths will not be part of his final decision. This seems both unacceptable and a huge sign he can be manipulated.

Elizabeth ShopeApr 7 2014 09:19 PM

@A Proud Canadian - sorry, somehow a period got included at the end of the hyperlink so that it didn't work to click on it (but would if you copied and pasted it without the period at the end). This is the link: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/sclefkowitz/canada_-_pushing_arguments_of.html

You might also be interested in this more recent blog showing that Canada isn't taking its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions seriously because they are more concerned about rapidly ramping up greenhouse gas intensive tar sands production http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/ddroitsch/new_documents_reveal_canada_is.html

AaronApr 8 2014 01:21 AM

I agree with Dr. Hansen, that it's 'game over' for the climate if they proceed with all of this.

Lucia CamaraApr 8 2014 06:21 PM

Consider what is being done, and how it WILL effect your grand children, great grand children, and all the children now ... They, the children are our future ... let us give them an opportunity to live life better than we have had ... that is a legacy that every government , every nation, is to leave and be proud of. Blessings to you and your houses.

A Proud CanadianApr 9 2014 12:20 AM

Hi Elizabeth,

I read the links and didn't find anything of value. One of them was 3 years old.

I think that you need to consider that by Canada developing the oilsands and bringing that oil to the gulf coast, they are displacing OPEC heavy oil. So Canada will be forcing that oil to stay in the ground thus reducing the CO2 emissions from there. This results in no net additional CO2 at all. This was confirmed by the State Department report as well.

Suzanne WiggsApr 9 2014 03:28 AM

Funny how they (politicians and the like) will hop on board with scientific findings (global warming) that will further their agenda but then turn around and not listen to science and the brilliant minds of the world when it doesn't fit into their plans. Makes me ill.

Doug GrandtApr 10 2014 07:41 AM

Elizabeth, while I was preparing an email to sent this great letter to Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil (http://bit.ly/REX10APR), I noticed there are no signers from MIT. This is important, because ExxonMobil supports MIT and uses the results from MIT climate models to justify their position and business plans. It would be really helpful if MIT scientists and economists would sign this letter, and addendum or amendment.

Thanks so much for NRDC efforts.

Kevin PApr 12 2014 02:34 PM

Awesome post Doug,
Glad to see someone brought some humor to this conversation.

Kevin HaendigesApr 13 2014 01:06 PM

Like it or not, money talks and BS walks. The reality is that there are no practical, profitable green alternatives to carbon based energy right now, and there won't be any that can come close to challenging it in the foreseeable future. Until there are King Carbon will reign, deal with it. Bold talk on internet forums won't supplant carbon, finding cleaner ways to use it until greener alternatives become technically and profitably possible is the the only realistic choice. Keystone will be built, that's reality. Maybe not now, with that empty suit socialist liar still in office, but soon. China and India will continue to burn massive amounts of coal, and there's nothing you can do to stop them, get over it ,and try to find cleaner ways for them to burn that coal. BTW, with the increasing revelations of fraud in the climate science ranks, nobody is buying your bilge that we are the sole cause of climate change. You can't even tell the same lies consistently enough to convince the rest of us that there really is a problem. The climate has always changed, and always will, even the dumbest guy at the gas pump knows that, and he no longer believes your lies. Even if he did, he isn't willing to give up cheap energy for your hippy fantasies of a greener world. Give him a viable alternative and he'll be waving the green banner right beside you at your next demonstration.

Andres de MaakerApr 13 2014 03:39 PM

Great to see the scientific community fight for a better environmental policy by putting pressure on the president.

Jill NicholApr 13 2014 11:31 PM

Please , please don't bow to corporate greed. Please take a stand and do the right thing.

Ashleigh Lutz-NelsonApr 14 2014 05:44 PM

We need to make responsible choices that will affect the future of biodiversity.

Jeffrey MeyerApr 14 2014 09:55 PM

Keystone is much more than just a pipeline. This is really about a generational shift in our energy paradigm and how we will survive the 21st century. See my editorial at http://www.theecoreport.com/green-blogs/technology/energy/fossilfuels/pipeline/millennials-see-keystone-as-more-than-just-a-pipeline/

Kevin PApr 14 2014 11:00 PM

I agree with Proud Canadian and Most of what Kevin H says.
As a believer in the greenhouse effect and the yet to be proven but highly likely link between CO2 and climate change, I say that we will need oil until we don't. We are eventually going to get off of oil but it wont be tomorrow. as we transition, I prefer Canadian oil to OPEC oil hands down.

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