Keystone Decision ‘Marks Turning Point’, Breaks ‘Psychological Threshold’
The cancellation of TransCanada Corporation’s Keystone XL pipeline is not irrelevant to the fight against climate change, and it’s much more than just a symbolic gesture, Oil Change International argued in a post published hours after President Barack Obama’s Friday announcement.
The decision “marks a turning point for energy decisions: in future, policymakers will be under pressure to consider climate impacts of any new policies and infrastructure,” the research group notes. “But it is not only setting a bar for future energy decisions: the climate impact of stopping this pipeline is real.” An analysis published by Oil Change last week put North America’s pipeline network at 89% capacity and suggested that spare capacity will run out by 2017, largely because of citizen resistance to projects like Keystone.
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“While new pipelines in Oklahoma and Texas over the last two years have eased past bottlenecks, that has pushed the chokepoint back to the border, where today’s decision hits,” Senior Campaign Advisor Greg Muttitt wrote Friday.
Climate Action Network Canada commented that Obama’s decision “has helped the world cross an important psychological threshold. Fossil fuel development is no longer inevitable or socially acceptable” given the risks of an unstable climate to today’s world and future generations.
“There is no turning back: expanding the oil sands is not inevitable. Canada’s fair share contribution to keeping global warming to safe levels requires a moratorium on oil sands expansion,” said Executive Director Louise Comeau. “Canada’s economic future rests on a 100% renewable energy system.”
In an opinion piece the same day, Washington Post writer Stephen Stromberg said Obama had set aside the evidence to “capitulate” on Keystone.
“Keystone XL was an irrational and insulting litmus test for seriousness about climate change,” Stromberg wrote. “It made the environmental movement look capricious and immature. It alienated some of those who should be natural allies in the fight against global warming. The stunning lack of substance behind the anti-Keystone XL movement should have offended those who care about the real, formidable task of transitioning the economy onto low- and no-emissions technology, which requires a widespread reduction in demand for dirty fuels. Anti-Keystone XL activists have misapplied their energy; the danger is that they will continue to do so.” (h/t to The Energy Mix subscriber David Daly for pointing us to the Stromberg post)