U.S. President Barack Obama has said the Canada-U.S. Keystone XL oil pipeline must be carbon-neutral. A State Department report that found little impact on emissions may give Obama the political cover it needs to move ahead. Not so fast, say environmental groups who challenge the neutrality of the report. Next step is a 90-day comment period, followed by another State Department decision. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is known for his effort to combat climate change, will then determine if the pipeline project is in the national interest. Coverage of the report, reaction, and more, follows.
Quote of the Day:
“What the president’s role is now is to protect this process from politics, let the expert agencies and the cabinet secretaries make their assessments both of the study that was put on Friday as well as its impact on the national interest.”
–White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on CBS’s “Face the Nation”
Keystone – Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
U.S. State Department
U.S. report on Keystone indicates little climate impact
A long-awaited State Department environmental report on the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline indicates what the oil industry and its backers have been saying — it won’t have a big impact on carbon emissions that cause climate change.
**RKB — Approval or denial of any single project was unlikely to affect how much oil gets extracted from the tar sands, Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones said in a conference call with reporters, covered in this CNN article. Jones noted that the oil from the tar sands was more carbon intensive than normal oil, producing 17% more carbon emissions.
**Additional coverage in Carbon section
Five takeaways from State Department’s review of the Keystone XL pipeline
Washington Post Wonk Blog
The State Department has finished its massive environmental review of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, down to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would move on to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
The Obama Administration’s Big Chance to Cut Carbon
There’s going to be plenty of hullabaloo this February when the Supreme Court hears a case on a greenhouse-gas permitting program for industrial facilities. But that’s merely a prelude to a much bigger, far more controversial crackdown that could come this summer–one with substantial implications for the health of humans and wildlife alike. By June the Obama administration plans to put forward rules to limit carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s 1,600 existing coal- and gas-fired plants. That’s a huge step: They’re responsible for roughly 40 percent of America’s carbon dioxide emissions.
EU Conservatives Group Opposes Fast-Track Carbon-Glut Fix
The European Union’s conservatives group raised an objection in the European Parliament’s industry committee to fast-tracking of a carbon-market fix, triggering the biggest decline in emission prices in nine trading sessions.
Stock exchange aims to reinvent investing for birds, bees and trees
Want to make money from a tree? You’ll probably need to cut it down. Live near a salmon or tuna fishery? Send out the boats and fishing nets for your livelihood.
ArcelorMittal warns German energy reform would curb investment
ArcelorMittal , the world’s biggest steelmaker, warned that Germany’s proposed energy reforms would prompt companies to scale back investments as it becomes harder to make money in Europe’s biggest economy.
Bloomberg named UN climate envoy
Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has been appointed to be the UN special envoy for cities and climate change. It’s a position that will give the billionaire businessman and philanthropist an international stage to press for action to combat global warming.
Climate Leadership Conference
Association of Climate Change Officers
February 24-26, 2014
San Diego, CA
The Microgrid, Distributed Energy, and Renewables: How They Work Together
February 25, 2014
Round Table: California Clean Energy Markets and Policy Strategies
February 28, 2014
Click here for more information and to register.
Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) 2014
March 26-28, 2014
San Francisco, California
13th Biennial Conference and Trade Fair on Business and Sustainability
March 26-28, 2014
Vancouver, British Columbia
State Department Keystone Pipeline Report Finds Little Impact on Carbon Emissions
U.S. News & World Report
A new report outlining the potential environmental effects of the polarizing Keystone XL pipeline project leaves the door open to a decision either way by the Obama administration, despite positive spin from both advocates and detractors.
State Department: Keystone XL Pipeline Would Be Pretty Much Fine
President Obama managed to punt the issue of Keystone XL Pipeline approval past the 2012 election, waiting until a new assessment by the State Department determined the impact of construction. That mollified his environmentalist base, and by extension encouraged Tom Steyer to throw money behind anti-Keystone candidates in 2013. It (obviously) frustrated Republicans, first when they lost the election anyway, second when they failed to attach Keystone to any of 2013’s must-pass bills.
Report Opens Way to Approval for Keystone Pipeline
The New York Times
The State Department released a report on Friday concluding that the Keystone XL pipeline would not substantially worsen carbon pollution, leaving an opening for President Obama to approve the politically divisive project.
W.H.’s McDonough vague on Keystone next steps
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough is offering few clues on how and when President Barack Obama will make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, and isn’t showing his hand on the president’s interpretation of the State Department’s latest analysis of the project.
Pipeline Opponents’ Hopes Now Rest Largely on Kerry
The New York Times
Environmental activists have not been shy in their fight against the Keystone XL pipeline. They have wrapped a giant pipeline around the White House fence, marched on Washington in the frigid cold, been arrested, and followed President Obama around the country to press their concerns while raising millions of dollars for the cause.
Keystone Foe Steyer Urges Review of ‘Defective’ Analysis
Tom Steyer, the billionaire Democratic Party donor and Keystone XL foe, urged U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to conduct an independent review of the “defective” Jan. 30 environmental report on the pipeline.
Province may hike carbon levy amid push to cut greenhouse gas emissions
Alberta is considering raising its carbon levy on heavy industry, extending who pays the fees and linking to other provinces’ greenhouse gas emissions markets, says Environment Minister Robin Campbell.
California challenges cities to compete to cut carbon emissions
Los Angeles Times
The California Air Resources Board thinks a little friendly competition might inspire Californians to scale back their driving, cut electricity use and take other steps to reduce carbon emissions.
Efforts to cap CO2 emissions are adverse to human health and welfare
The Hill’s Congress Blog
In his State of the Union address, President Obama advocated an energy policy aimed at reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which he claims are causing catastrophic changes to the earth’s climate and “harming western communities.” In his policy prescription, the president advocates a combination of increased regulation of the energy and transportation industries and more government spending on research designed to bring low-carbon-emitting sources of energy, i.e., so-called renewables, to market. He considers those actions to be the only viable options “leading to a cleaner, safer planet.”
Natural Gas/Coal/Alternative Fuels
Analysis: Supply test looms for Obama’s darling natural gas
While the United States is sitting on a bounty of natural gas, the wild volatility of prices this winter could soon become a regular feature as growing demand begins to test supply, potentially curbing plans to increase exports and switch power plants to gas from coal.
‘Shocking’ natural gas prices expected to continue to rise
Natural gas customers in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia who were facing record bills in January are being warned to expect another wave of increases in February, the fifth increase in the price of natural gas since September.
South Africa Power From Coal May Fall to 50% by 2050
South Africa, the continent’s biggest coal producer, plans to reduce its reliance on the fossil fuel as a source of electricity to about 50 percent of its energy mix by 2050, down from more than 80 percent now.
Canada’s Caisse Buys Wind-Farm Stake From Dong for $1 Billion
La Caisse de Depot & Placement du Quebec bought a stake in the world’s biggest offshore wind farm for 644 million pounds ($1.06 billion) as it seeks the steady, long-term returns provided by the industry.
U.S. solar industry employs more than coal, gas combined
The annual census of U.S. solar jobs is in — and as of 2013, the industry now employs about 143,000 Americans.
Which country leads in wind generation?
There is now one country in the world where wind energy is the primary electricity source — you’d expect it to be Denmark, but it’s Spain.
Parched, California Cuts Off Tap to Agencies
The New York Times
Responding to one of the worst droughts in California’s history, state officials announced on Friday that they would cut off the water to local agencies serving 25 million residents and about 750,000 acres of farmland.
California Carbon Market Watch: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Golden State’s Cap-and-Trade Program,Year One (January 8, 2014)
Assessing Corporate Emissions Performance Through the Lens of Climate Science (December 2013)
Climate Counts and Center for Sustainable Organizations
Use of internal carbon price by companies as incentive and strategic planning tool (Posted December 11, 2013)
OECD: Effective carbon prices (November 4, 2013)
Global 500 Climate Change Report 2013 (Posted September 12, 2013)
The Future of China’s Power Sector (posted August 27, 2013)
Bloomberg New Energy Finance
U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather (Posted July 14, 2013)
U.S. Dept. of Energy
Turn down the heat: climate extremes, regional impacts, and the case for resilience (Posted June 19, 2013)