The 1,700-mile pipeline would bring oil from the Alberta oil sands in Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast. The Congressional Research Service has estimated that crude oil from the sands could produce 14 percent to 20 percent more planet-warming gases than the average oil in U.S. refineries.But the State Department said Friday that denying the pipeline wouldn’t stop the Canadian oil from getting to market by rail or construction of other new pipelines.“Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands,” according to the State Department’s environmental analysis.
Obama will make the final call on whether the project moves forward, but more and more he’s losing any excuse he could have for turning it down. The environmental movement is, of course, furious with this report, and would be even angrier if Obama eventually approved the pipeline. Greens often shout loudly about how the right ignores science, especially the science of climate change, but their reaction to the State Department’s paper shows that they too can put ideology above science.So which will Obama choose: approving a important economic development with low environmental impact or appeasing his base? We hope he was the courage to turn down his base, and go with the better, wiser, and ultimately more sustainable path of building the pipeline.