WASHINGTON -- Sixty leading environmental, conservation, development, faith-based, and social justice organizations are congratulating Secretary of State John Kerry for his commitment to fight climate change and urging him to “spur bold and immediate action” to reduce its worsening impacts on American families and communities.
The groups sent a letter today to Kerry, the former senator newly confirmed as secretary of state, calling on him to push for strong action against climate change and to take three specific steps: to help secure a global agreement to deal with the climate crisis; to reject any new or expanded infrastructure for tar sands oil, starting with the Keystone XL pipeline; and to secure funding for international climate action, particularly in developing countries and the most vulnerable communities.
“American leadership is essential to heading off deeper climate disruption,” said Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) International Program Director Susan Casey-Lefkowitz. “Secretary Kerry has an opportunity to supercharge his already strong climate record by rejecting dirty fuels, starting with the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would dramatically boost carbon pollution and worsen our climate.”
The State department will soon release an environmental review of the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. An earlier review assumed that even if Keystone XL were not built, other pipelines would enable tar sands expansion to occur. However, mounting evidence now shows that the tar sands industry’s plan to triple production by 2030 will not be possible without the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
'It must be a relief for John Kerry to leave the talk shop of the US Senate and take a post where his convictions will translate directly into policy,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. “It's hard to imagine that one of his first stands won't be to nix the Keystone pipeline, a 1,700-mile fuse to one of the planet's largest carbon bombs.'
On February 17, President’s Day, more than 20,000 Americans will gather in Washington, D.C., for a “Forward on Climate” rally, calling for the Obama Administration to take strong action on climate change, leading with rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and reducing carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants—the largest source of carbon pollution today.
If approved, the Keystone XL pipeline would boost carbon pollution tomorrow by triggering a boom of growth in the tar sands industry in Canada, and greatly increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that this tar sands pipeline will boost annual U.S. carbon pollution emissions by up to 27.6 million metric tons – the impact of adding nearly 6 million cars on the road.
However, new research by Oil Change International (OCI) shows that the government’s estimates of the carbon emissions associated with Keystone XL underestimates the full impact of tar sands because a barrel of tar sands produces significantly more petroleum coke than conventional crude, which is more carbon-intensive than coal. It’s also being sold today as a cheaper substitute to it both in the U.S. and internationally. Here is the link to the research: http://priceofoil.org/2013/01/17/petroleum-coke-the-coal-hiding-in-the-tar-sands/
OCI’s research shows that Keystone XL will produce enough petcoke to fuel 5 U.S. coal plants. The emissions from this petcoke have not yet been included in climate-impact analysis of the pipeline or the tar sands industry and OCI shows that it will raise total emissions by at least 13 percent.
In addition to addressing the pipeline, Kerry has an opportunity to help lead international work to reduce climate change. Countries have agreed to negotiate a new international agreement by 2015 that will include commitments to reduce pollution by key countries. The United States can play an important role shaping that agreement and putting the world on course to reduce the threat of climate change. At the same time, the United States has joined a large number of countries seeking to mobilize significant investments in developing countries that will promote clean energy deployment, adaptation, and deforestation reductions.
The letter from the broad coalition of groups is here: Letter PDF
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.