Dems press Kerry on Keystone: Face 'reality of climate change'

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on Wednesday urged Secretary of State John Kerry to face the "reality of climate change" and reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

In formal comments submitted to the State Department for its final review of the $5.4 billion project, the two Democrats admitted that Kerry will upset people no matter what call he makes on the oil-sands pipeline.

ADVERTISEMENT
"Here, the choice is between business-as-usual and facing up to the reality of climate change. Whichever decision you make, some Americans will be unhappy with the outcome," the two lawmakers wrote in the letter. "But sometimes the most critical decisions are difficult precisely because there is so much at stake."

Whitehouse and Waxman are staunch opponents of the pipeline, which they say would significantly exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions.

But State's final environmental analysis of the pipeline said Keystone would not significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and that oil sands from Canada would make it to market whether or not the pipeline is built.

Whitehouse and Waxman called that finding a drastic understatement.

“Unfortunately, the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement fails to recognize the reality of what is at stake. The [State report] systematically downplays the importance of this pipeline and tries to suggest that it will have minimal real-world effects," the letter states.

"The conclusions in the [final State report] cannot serve as a reliable basis for assessing the potential impact on climate change of approving the Keystone XL pipeline.”

The letter adds a personal appeal to Kerry, stating that few people understand the fight against climate change better than he does.

"And, as few understand better than you, if we do not take a stand now to fight climate change, we will doom our children, our grandchildren and all generations to come to life on an increasingly inhospitable and dangerous planet," the letter states.

The State Department is nearing the end of its national interest determination on Keystone XL. After that, Kerry will be able to make his recommendation on the pipeline to President Obama.

Obama told governors visiting the White House in February that a decision would be make in a "couple of months," but no deadline has been set.