From an editorial Wednesday in the Chicago Tribune:
The U.S. State Department finally has given the Keystone XL pipeline an unexpectedly green light. In a Jan. 31 report, the agency found the pipeline wouldnt cause significant environmental damage. It wouldnt prompt more oil extraction. It wouldnt increase demand at U.S. refineries. And, surely to the shock of many opponents of the long-proposed pipeline, its construction actually would lead to fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the likely alternatives for moving oil.
The State Department didnt formally approve the project, but it did give answers to the key concerns that President Barack Obama raised when he put a stall on the project last June.
Keystone XL would link the rich oil sands of inland Canada to U.S. refineries and ports at the Gulf of Mexico. That is, the pipeline would be a safer and more reliable way to move oil from one part of North America to another oil that now moves primarily by barge, rail and truck.
Yet the Keystone XL project remains in limbo five years after its backers first sought the necessary approval from Washington.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been pressing for years for U.S. approval of the $5.4 billion pipeline. With the project, Canadian energy resources can be put to use more efficiently. Without it, Canada will work around the U.S., expanding its access to ports on its Atlantic and Pacific coasts. More oil will be transported by methods that carry a higher risk of accidents witness the carnage last summer when a train loaded with oil exploded in the Canadian city of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people.
Whats most striking in the State Department report appears deep in the fourth of its 11 volumes, under the heading Greenhouse Gas Impacts. Three scenarios if the pipeline isnt built:
• If the oil instead moves to refineries by rail and tanker, greenhouse gas emissions would be 27.8 percent higher.
• If the oil is transported by train to existing pipelines, emissions would be 39.7 percent higher.
• If the oil goes to the Gulf solely by train, emissions would be 41.8 percent higher.
Enough. Get to work and put people to work on the Keystone XL pipeline.
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