Greens press Kerry on climate impact of Keystone

A coalition of green groups wants Secretary of State John Kerry to re-evaluate the climate change impact of the Keystone XL pipeline, and that of the Alberta Clipper pipeline in Minnesota.

The Alberta Clipper pipeline transports crude oil from Canadian oil sands across Minnesota. Keystone XL would carry crude from Alberta's oil sands as well, but across the U.S. to Gulf refineries.

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Environmentalists strongly oppose the expansion of oil sands production, and have railed against the State Department's report on Keystone, which said the controversial Keystone pipeline would not significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Backed by a new study out Monday, the greens argue that that estimate is off, and that the pipeline, proposed by developer TransCanada, could cause four times more greenhouse gas emissions than State previously reported.

On top of that, the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and 350.org, among other groups, argue that the administration must consider "the potential cumulative climate impact" from both an expansion of the Alberta Clipper and the Keystone pipelines.

"If allowed, these pipelines will spur tar sands expansion," the groups wrote in a letter to Kerry on Monday.

“The administration’s commitment to aggressive greenhouse gas reduction policies simply cannot be squared with a piecemeal approach to tar sands infrastructure permitting. The Department can only understand the true climate impacts of these pipelines by analyzing their cumulative growth-inducing effect on tar sands development," the letter adds.

Advocates of Keystone XL say the oil will get to market even if the pipeline is rejected because of the increasing production. TransCanada is currently exploring routes to transport the product by railcar.

The pipeline developer also pushed back against the study released in Nature on Monday, stating alternative modes of transportation to Keystone XL would increase greenhouse gas emissions more than the proposed pipeline.