Canadian, U.S. Environmental Groups Respond to Harper’s KXL Letter to Obama

In response to the news that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama formally proposing “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector,” environmental leaders issued the following response.
CONTACT: Daniel Kessler,
Canadian and U.S. Environmental Groups Respond to Prime Minister Harper’s
Letter to President Obamaon Keystone XL and Emissions Reductions

In response to the news that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama formally proposing “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector,” environmental leaders issued the following response.

Jane Kleeb, Executive Director, Bold Nebraska:
“It’s football season in Nebraska, so we know a Hail Mary pass when we see it. If Keystone XL won’t lead to additional emissions, then why is Canada now proposing a plan to reduce emissions from tarsands? The answer is simple: Keystone is the lynchpin for tarsands expansion.” 

Danielle Droitsch, Canada Project Director, NRDC:
“Canada cannot pursue its aggressive tar sands expansion facilitated by the Keystone XL pipeline and simultaneously protest the climate. Tar sands expansion is a recipe for climate failure and the Obama administration should reject any deal from the Harper government.”

Daniel Kessler, Media Campaigner,
“This is a last ditch bait-and-switch by the Canadian government and it’s going to fail. Keystone XL and expanded tar sands production are climate disasters, period. There is no way the pipeline can meet President Obama’s climate test. The Harper government has systematically weakened environmental protections while doubling down on tar sands production. They have absolutely zero credibility with which to make this offer. Premier Harper’s letter is only going to embolden the movement opposing Keystone XL, we know that momentum is on our side.”

Chief Allan Adam, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation:
“The Harper Government continues to lobby for the Oil industry while sidestepping the long time concerns of First Nations, such as the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, regarding the devastating impacts that expanding the Alberta tar sands has on the rights, title and health of our communities.”

Dr. Mark Jarrard, School of Resource Management, Simon Fraser University:
“The crazy logic is that ‘if you let us increase emissions with oil sands, we promise to reduce emissions.’ This will mean more policies like Alberta’s that tinker at the edges while projects and emissions skyrocket. Hopefully Obama will not bite.”

David Turnbull, Campaign Director, Oil Change International:
“Trusting Canada’s Harper government on climate would be a huge mistake. Prime Minister Harper has proven time and again his willingness to turn his back on international climate commitments in order to promote a tar sands industry incompatible with real climate action. “

Keith Stewart, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator, Greenpeace:
“Given Canada’s track record of broken climate commitments I don’t think these new desperate attempts by the Harper government will have much sway with the Obama administration. Tackling Canada’s sky-rocketing carbon emissions means putting a moratorium on tar sands development and reducing overall emissions and Harper has proved time and time again that they aren’t willing to do that. The only reasonable Keystone solution is to listen to climate science and leave that carbon in the ground.”

Michael Marx, Beyond Oil Campaign Director, Sierra Club:
“The Keystone XL pipeline faces a climate test that it fails by huge margins. No hollow promises from the Harper government will change the facts about this dirty and dangerous tar sands pipeline and it’s massive carbon pollution.”

Gillian McEachern, Campaign Director, Environmental Defence Canada:
“Canada can’t credibly tackle climate change if it sticks with plans to triple tar sands production. Until we have action to limit how big and how fast the industry grows, emissions will keep going up and our international reputation will keep being dragged down.”

Becky Bond, Political Director, CREDO:
“It’s simple: no deals will make the ‘game over for the climate’ pipeline acceptable. If President Obama is serious about taking real action on climate change, he cannot use Keystone XL as a bargaining chip in a foreign policy poker game.”



Despite ongoing talks between President Obama and Prime Minister Harper about carbon emissions from the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the reality is that Canada cannot meet its emissions targets if tar sands production expands as planned.

The tar sands are Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas pollution, and if they continue to expand as government and industry project, they will cancel out every other effort across the country to mitigate emissions. Emissions from the tar sands are projected to double by 2020, which will send Canada soaring past the 2020 climate change target it shares with the United States.

  • The additional carbon emissions due to Keystone XL would nearly wipe out the emissions reductions from the President’s new heavy duty truck emission and efficiency rules (27.4 million metric tons per year).
  • The additional carbon emissions due to Keystone XL would far outweigh carbon savings from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in New England and the Mid-Atlantic (11.9 million metric tons per year).
  • Over 50 years, Keystone XL would be responsible for adding more carbon pollution to our atmosphere than the roughly 230 million cars in the U.S. release into the air in an entire year.

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Canada Will Say Anything

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The United States Dept. of Energy Secretary Moniz will meet on Monday with Joe Oliver, the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources to discuss their latest promise to “do better” on carbon pollution from tarsands. Ever since Pres. Obama drew the clear line in the sand that he would not approve Keystone XL if it contributed […]
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