In a groundbreaking Nature Journal article, a group of economists, policy researchers, ecologists, and scientists make the case for a moratorium on new pipelines in North America until a “more coherent approach” can be developed to evaluate tar sands projects in the context of a broader energy and climate strategy, taking into account the long-term and cumulative consequences of multiple projects or of global carbon pollution.

“No new oil-sands projects should move forward unless developments are consistent with national and international commitments to reducing carbon pollution,” they write. “Anything less demonstrates flawed policies and failed leadership. With such high stakes, our nations and the world cannot afford a series of ad hoc, fragmented decisions.”

Read the full journal article here:
Download a PDF of the article: Nature Journal_Palen

One year ago this week, President Obama made a powerful speech on the importance of protecting the environment for future generations by taking meaningful action on climate. In this speech, Obama made it clear that he would not approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline if scientific analysis showed that the project would significantly worsen carbon emissions.

Analysis by environmental groups has long shown that Keystone XL would, in fact, be a significant contributor to carbon emissions and global climate changeflunking the President’s climate test. This week, respected Canadian scientists confirmed this analysis, arguing that the way the government currently evaluates tar sands projects like Keystone is fundamentally flawed and misleading because by looking at each project in isolation, it downplays their significance and contribution to climate change.

tarsands_nature journal

If President Obama and Secretary Kerry are serious about listening to the science in making decisions on tar sands projects like Keystone XL and the proposed Alberta Clipper expansion, it is clear that these projects must be evaluated together and in context of a national energy policy.

Quotes from leading environmental and landowner groups:

Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska: “Our country’s first responsibility is to protect our citizens. Scientists and landowners both have the common sense to know tar sands pipelines that criss-cross our land and water without a clear national energy policy is a risk not worth taking.”

Danielle Droitsch, Canada Project Director for Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “These leading scientists and economists are exactly right: we need to put a stop to tar sands oil expansion and risky projects like the Keystone XL pipeline until we understand their full impact on the environment, public health and our climate. We know that tar sands pipelines are the enabler of tar sands growth but our process to review such pipelines is flawed. Secretary Kerry still has a chance to get it right by following the science and rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.”

Jim Murphy, Senior Counsel with National Wildlife Federation, said, “Scientists have now made clear saying yes to tar sands infrastructure will lock us in to a future of climate disruption and habitat loss that will harm wildlife and that we have a stark choice between polluting tar sands and a clean energy future.  By faithfully implementing the President’s carbon test for all tar sands pipelines and adhering to his carbon pollution reduction goals, President Obama can make the right choice.”

Michael Marx, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil Campaign: “Voices on both sides of the border have now made it clear that we must consider the full impact of Keystone XL and other tar sands pipelines — especially their devastating effect on our climate. The carbon pollution resulting in building Keystone XL would be the equivalent of adding 37 million new cars to the road — and the pollution resulting from all other proposed tar sands pipelines would nearly triple that. That means these tar sands pipelines clearly fail the climate test established by President Obama and the call for climate action echoing across North America.”

Maura Cowley, Executive Director of the Energy Action Coalition: “Nature’s call for a moratorium on tar sands development should be the final nail in Keystone XL’s coffin. Young voters overwhelmingly support laying to rest all new fossil fuel development and doubling down on building a clean energy economy, our future depends on it.”