By: Sara Palmer, Climate Connections
The U.S. state department claimed that the Keystone XL pipeline would increase world carbon emissions by 30 million tons. However, a recent study released by scientists from the Stockholm Environment Institute shows that number could be off – way off. Seth Borenstein writes in an article published by the Portland Press Herald:
The researchers estimate that the proposed pipeline, which would carry oil from tar sands in western Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, would increase world greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 121 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.,
The U.S. estimates didn’t take into account that the added oil from the pipeline would drop prices by about $3 a barrel, spurring consumption that would create more pollution, the researchers said.
Other scientists and organizations seem to be shrugging of this quadrupled number. The American Petroleum Institute (go figure) claimed that the study was pointless, because the pipeline itself would have nothing to do with the increase. Tar sands oil will reduce the price of oil per barrel, they claim, therefore increasing oil usage regardless of how it is transported. In his article, “Study: Keystone carbon pollution more than figured,” Borenstein interviews other scientists and academics all to happy to chime in their opinions:
- Lower prices may be appealing at first, but there needs to be a balance between consumer happiness and environmental happiness, said Wesleyan University environmental economist Gary Yohe, who applauds the study’s findings.
- A glass-half-empty perspective came from University of Sussex economist Richard Tol, who believes that 121 million is a “drop in the bucket” when compared to the 36 billion tons of carbon emissions released on 2013.
- Ken Caldeira, Carnegie Institution of Washington, rode the fence, agreeing that 121 million tons is relatively small, but believes that we should be moving away from activities that boost carbon dioxide no matter the amount.
- And, finally, independent energy economist Judith Dwarkin in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, blew off the study entirely, claiming that consumption of oil drives the price, not the other way around.
Whether millions or billions of carbon emissions, the Keystone XL pipeline will also damage a multitude of other environments. We need to see more studies that illustrate the whole impact of the pipeline and look at them as all interconnected, instead of relevant or irrelevant.