Keystone pipeline foe Steyer launches $1 million ad push

Billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer is launching a four-part, $1 million ad buy that attacks the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

The former hedge fund chief’s first ad, slated to run during today’s political talk shows, alleges Keystone wouldn’t help the U.S. because the oil would be  “refined and loaded on ships to be sold overseas to countries like China.”

“Foreign countries will get more access to more oil to make more products to sell back to us, undercutting our economy and our workers,” the ad states.

The Obama administration is weighing whether to grant a cross-border permit for TransCanada Corp.’s pipeline, which would bring oil from Canadian oil sands projects to Gulf Coast refiners.

Keystone pipeline supporters have pushed back against activists’ allegations that Keystone would largely be an export pipeline, either for crude it carries or refined products made with it.

They also say that Keystone would benefit the economy even if some products refined with the oil it carries are exported.

The State Department’s March draft analysis of the pipeline noted that U.S. exports of refined products are increasing as refiners “respond to lower domestic gasoline demand and continued higher demand and prices in overseas markets.”

But it pointed out that almost half the products refined in the Gulf Coast serve the domestic market.

The draft analysis also found that refined product export trends are “unlikely to be significantly impacted” by Keystone.

“It appears that Steyer is now ready to concede that oil will not simply pass through the Keystone XL pipeline to be exported and we welcome that development. If he reads the rest of the [supplemental draft environmental impact statement] he will see that the State Department also finds that refined products used in the US also will not be exported,” said Matt Dempsey, a spokesman for Oil Sands Fact Check, an oil industry group that backs Keystone.

Steyer’s ad, released through his NextGen Climate Action group, is part of a broader movement by environmentalists to keep political pressure on Obama as the White House weighs Keystone.

“We believe the President wants to do the right thing for America by rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline. These ads are part of our effort to help him do that,” Steyer said in a statement released alongside the new ad.