Greens plead case against pipeline at State

Green groups visited the State Department Monday to present new information that they say undercuts the case for the Keystone XL pipeline.

The groups told Kerri-Ann Jones, State's assistant secretary for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs, that new evidence suggests Keystone XL is a "linchpin" for the oil-sands industry.

If approved, the groups argue, Keystone XL will unlock oil-sands production and increase carbon emissions. They hope State will consider that in its upcoming environmental impact statement, which is due out at at any time.

Danielle Droitsch of the Natural Resources Defense Council — one of the groups that met with Jones — said claims that crude from the oil sands in Alberta, Canada, will reach Gulf Coast refineries regardless of whether the pipeline is approved are false.

The oil industry has argued that if the pipeline is not built, the crude oil will be transported via rail — a more dangerous alternative.

"The financial community has acknowledged that transporting tar sands oil by rail is a niche industry, not a replacement for the pipeline," Droitsch told The Hill after the meeting with Jones on Monday.

Supporters of Keystone XL say the pipeline would create jobs and help the U.S. advance on the path to energy independence.

But the green groups told State that the flood of U.S. light crude oil making its way to the Gulf Coast undermines the "quote on quote 'need for tar sands.'"

"The energy security benefits of Keystone XL are vastly overstated," Droitsch said.

Droitsch said the meeting was to ensure that "this incredibly dynamic information, conditions, and developments with respect to things that surround the pipeline are included in [State's] consideration."

Droitsch added that Jones and other department officials in the meeting were receptive and promised to review the information.

"We are confident that the State Department is taking a close look at the issues we raised," Droitsch said. "It's just a question of whether they will consider the new information in the statement."

In its draft environmental review of the project, the State Department found that approving or denying the TransCanada proposed pipeline would not affect the production or growth of the oil sands.

The groups hope the agency will walk back those comments back.

The Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters and also attended the meeting.