Entries in Environment (5)


Keystone XL Pipeline Does Little Environmental Harm, US Finds

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration Friday moved one step closer to approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, concluding in a draft environmental impact statement that the project would not accelerate global greenhouse gas emissions or significantly harm the natural habitats along its route.

The report, done by the State Department, suggests that the proposed 875-mile pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska, has cleared a significant hurdle on its way to President Obama’s desk for final consideration.

“The approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including this proposed project, really remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of development of the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil in the U.S.,” said Kerri-Ann Jones, the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

The State Department, which conducted the study because the pipeline would cross an international boundary, also suggested in a voluminous report that impacts on air, water and landscape would be minimal.

The agency found it “very unlikely” that the pipeline would affect water quality in any of the four aquifers through which it crossed.  It also concluded that along one part of the proposed route, in the case of a large-scale oil spill, “these impacts would typically be limited to within several hundred feet of the release source, and would not affect groundwater.”

Government analysts found that Keystone XL would each year produce the equivalent carbon dioxide emissions of 620,000 passenger cars operating for a year. But they concluded that whether or not the pipeline is approved, those emissions would still  likely occur because of fuels produced and obtained from other sources.

The release of the draft report reignited debate over climate change and President Obama’s pledge to do something about it.

Environmental activists have been lobbying Obama hard to block the plan — some recently chaining themselves to the White House fence in protest. Many environmental groups see rejection of the pipeline as a litmus test for whether Obama intends to fulfill his pledge from the second inaugural.

“It seems like Secretary Kerry and the State Department missed President Obama’s State of the Union and inaugural address,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth.  “The draft SEIS reads like an on-ramp to justify the Keystone XL pipeline project. We cannot solve the climate crisis when the State Department fails to understand the basic climate, environmental and economic impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Pica and other environmental advocates have called the pipeline a “carbon bomb,” increasing the use of tar sands oil, which is one of the dirtiest to produce and transport.

The oil industry, some members of Congress, and the nation’s major labor unions, which stand to gain construction jobs with the pipeline’s approval, all welcomed the news.

“No matter how many times KXL is reviewed, the result is the same: no significant environmental impact,” said Marty Durbin of the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry lobby.

“The latest impact statement from the State Department puts this important, job-creating project one step closer to reality,” he said. “The last approval needed is by President Obama, and we urge him to do so as soon as possible.”

Canada, which has long lobbied the U.S. for approval of the deal, also hailed the State Department’s report as a step forward.

“The Keystone XL pipeline will create tens of thousands of jobs on both sides of the border,” said Canadian natural resources minister Joe Oliver.

In 2011, the Obama administration came close to approving an earlier version of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have stretched from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. The deal was tabled after a dispute over the portion of the route through Nebraska, though officials later green-lighted construction of the southern portion of the pipeline.

Nebraska, Montana and South Dakota have now all signed-off on the pipeline plan and their governors and congressional delegations have been calling on Obama to follow suit.

One potential wild card:  new Secretary of State John Kerry, a longtime advocate of action to combat climate change.  He will play an influential role in finalizing the department’s review and recommendation before presenting it to Obama, who has said he’ll make the final call.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Salazar Defends Obama on Environment, Energy: We've Moved Out of 'Hummer Age'

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Wednesday defended President Obama's record on the environment amid deepening criticism from green allies over a 2008 campaign promise to "end the tyranny of oil."

"It's like moving the Titanic," Salazar said of the administration's effort to work with Congress to build a "new energy framework."

"Notwithstanding that, we have made a lot of progress," he said. "As a U.S. senator, I remember using the statistic of our imports of 70 percent of oil from other countries. Today, our imports are down to less than 50 percent, the last figure I saw."

Salazar said Obama has moved the U.S. out of the "Hummer Age" -- referring to the gas-guzzing General Motors-made SUV -- by imposing sweeping new fuel efficiency standards for vehicles and promoting new technologies that allow some cars and trucks to run solely on renewable energy.

"I think that when the environmental community looks at what it is we've done to transform the energy reality, the energy future of the United States, I think they ought to say we've done a pretty good job," he said.

The comments came as the administration tangles with environmental activists over the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline that would run from Canada to the Texas gulf coast.

A coalition of groups filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday to block land-clearing for the project, which the State Department has not yet approved but which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she's "inclined" to do. They have also alleged bias and corruption in the administration's vetting process for the deal, charges that officials deny.

The issue has even spilled onto the campaign trail, when hecklers interrupted Obama during a St. Louis fundraiser Tuesday night, asking, "Will you stop the pipeline?" Obama continued undeterred except to say, "We've got a couple of people here who are concerned about the environment."

Critics say the issue is shaping up to be the clearest test of Obama's commitment to environmental policy after a string of decisions by his administration deeply opposed by green allies.

This week, the administration upheld 500 leases for drilling in the Arctic Ocean, while earlier this month it shelved new EPA standards for ozone emissions, which Obama said imposed undue regulatory burdens.

Many Republicans and oil industry groups support the pipeline, saying construction will create American jobs and lead to greater access to oil supplies for U.S. markets.

The administration is holding a public hearing on the pipeline on Friday. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to rule on the matter before the end of the year. It's unclear whether or not Obama will get directly involved.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry Links Policies of Mitt Romney to President Obama

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Texas Governor Rick Perry linked the governance styles and positions of rival Mitt Romney and President Obama as one in the same, arguing that voters are looking for a leader capable of distinguishing their policy from that of the current administration in the White House.

“As Republican voters decide who’s going to be best suited for this country and to take it in a new direction by stopping the spending spree and the scrapping of Obamacare, I’m confident that we’re going to choose a nominee that has governed with conservative principles, not one whose healthcare policies paved the way for Obamacare -- a path that blazed this world with higher premiums and with the loss of thousands of jobs,” Perry said in a speech at the George Public Policy Foundation Legislative Policy Briefing in Atlanta.

“I knew when I got into this race that I had my hands full fighting President Obama’s big government agenda. I just didn’t think it would be in the Republican primary.”

Though it was his first domestic policy speech of the campaign, Perry did not offer any specific policy proposals, but instead focused on Texas’ low taxes, lightening of regulations, and advances in tort reform, which has attracted 23,000 doctors to the state and provided greater access to health care. The Texas governor acknowledged his long record in the Lone Star State holds some controversy but argued it’s an asset showing he’s willing to take a risk.

“I’ve got a lengthy record, and sometimes it ruffles people’s feathers but sometimes you have to shake up the system.  Sometimes you have to look people in the face and say here is what’s broken, and here is the solution for getting that problem fixed and here’s the way to get America back on track, and I’m not running from my record.”

Though he never cited him by name, Perry opened a new line of attack on Romney, attempting to knock the Massachusetts governor for his environmental record.

"In Texas, we've cleaned up the air while creating jobs and adding millions in population. Another state -- Massachusetts -- was one of the first states to implement its own cap-and-trade program which included limits on carbon emissions for power plants," Perry said.

While Perry shed light on Massachusetts’ implementation of the program, he failed to mention that it was Romney’s successor, Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, not Romney, who signed cap and trade into effect.

Perry’s heads to New Hampshire for the weekend where he will participate in two town halls and attend a reception at the home of New Hampshire kingmaker, Ovide Lamontagne.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Actress Daryl Hannah Arrested Outside White House

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Actress Daryl Hannah was arrested again Tuesday for protesting for an environmental cause. This time, Hannah was taken into police custody outside the White House during a protest urging President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would run from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

“We want to be free from our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels. If Obama approves of this Keystone XL would be a disaster. These pipelines, it’s not 'if' it’s going to spill, it’s 'when' it’s going to spill,” Hannah told ABC moments before her arrest. “We cannot risk these precious resources and we cannot shackle ourselves to this type of destructive energy future when we have solutions available to us. We have American made, American grown, clean, safe energy.”

Hannah was arrested along with roughly 100 other protestors who sat on the sidewalk in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and refused repeated requests to move, violating the White House demonstration rules.

Tuesday’s protest was organized by the group Tar Sands Action, which claims the pipeline will pump 900,000 barrels a day of “the world’s dirtiest oil” from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas. The crowd outside the White House chanted “keep the tar sands in the soil, we don’t need your dirty oil,” as members of their group were hauled off by police.

Hannah and others believe the president is falling prey to special interests and the power of oil and gas lobbyists. “There are some powerful forces that want things to go their way and they’re the ones that have the loudest voices,” Hannah said. “If [President Obama] doesn’t do right by the American citizens, he will not be back in this office again.”

The actress, known for her roles in Splash and Wall Street, is an avid environmental activist and has been arrested several times in the past for issues ranging from coal mining to urban gardens.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Perry Calls Global Warming Unproven 'Scientific Theory’

Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images(BEDFORD, N.H.) -- At his first stop in the first primary state, Texas Gov. Rick Perry questioned the validity of scientific claims of global warming.

At a "Politics and Eggs" breakfast in Bedford, N.H., on Wednesday, Perry suggested that the issue of global warming has been manipulated by scientists eager to get money to continue their research projects.

"I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized. I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling in to their -- to their projects,” said Perry.  “And I think we're seeing almost weekly or even daily scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. Yes, our climate's changed, [it's] been changing ever since the Earth was formed.”

Furthermore, noted Perry, “I don't think from my perspective that I want America to be engaged in spending that much money on still a scientific theory that has not been proven and from my perspective is more and more being put into question."

This is by no means a new position for the Texas Governor. In a speech to California Republicans back in September of 2007, the Austin American Statesman quoted Perry as saying: "Virtually every day another scientist leaves the global warming bandwagon...But you won't read about that in the press because they have already invested in one side of the story. I'm not saying we shouldn't be good stewards of our environment. We should. I am just saying when politics hijack science, it quells true scientific debate and can have dire consequences for our future."

In 2009, Perry sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging her to withdraw the EPA’s recent ruling on the danger of carbon dioxide, especially in light of the recent "Climategate" scandal, which revealed oft-quoted global warming data results had been manipulated and contrary findings destroyed in order to falsely show the earth has been increasingly warming.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio