Photo via Dominion Paper
Well, here's one bit of good news from the US government in an otherwise severely depressing one. It doesn't make up for the fact that Democrats have killed any hope of a climate bill this year, but it does give some semblance of hope to those who oppose efforts to pipe the world's dirtiest oil into the states from Canada's infamous tar sands: The EPA has publicly questioned the State Department's study approving the massive $7 billion pipeline, citing a variety of environmental concerns. Could this stop the environmentally devastating plans?Probably not. At the least, experts believe, it will delay the project, and perhaps bring some more attention to how destructive the practice of extracting oil from tar sands is. The EPA bluntly criticized the US State Department's study outlining the risks of the project, and demanded a further analysis of environmental impacts.
EPA said that the draft environmental analysis needed further work on a range of issues, ranging from the basic need for the pipeline given U.S. clean energy and carbon pollution reduction goals to its potential impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, wetlands, migratory birds, public water supplies and minority communities.The Keystone XL pipeline, as it's called, would pump 900,000 barrels of oil from Alberta, Canada to refining facilities in Gulf Coast states. Refining the oil creates much more carbon emissions than normal oil, by margins of up to 82%. And the extraction process to obtain the oil from the tar sands is brutal in the first place -- it requires strip mining large swaths of boreal forests in Canada, and waste products from the process contaminate rivers and lakes. It's ugly stuff -- there's a reason some call it the most destructive project on earth.
"EPA has raised a major red flag," said Jim Lyon, senior vice president for the National Wildlife Federation... "Tar sands and the pipelines that carry them are the wrong energy choice for the U.S."
So the EPA is sending the State Dept. back to the drawing board -- for now, at least. Whether this development will have any impact on the pipeline's fate in the long run remains to be seen.