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Keystone Pipeline Plays Minor Role in State of the Union

President Obama only briefly mentioned the Keystone XL pipeline in last night’s State of the Union address.

Earlier Tuesday, however, Obama reiterated he would veto the Keystone pipeline if it passes Congress, the Hill reports. And in his speech he did vow to veto any congressional efforts to halt executive actions designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change,” Obama said, adding that the nation should act like climate change threatens national security.

Obama also highlighted the US and China’s ambitious climate change goals announced in November, when Obama pledged to cut US greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Chinese president Xi Jinping announced targets to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 or sooner and to increase China’s non-fossil fuel share of energy to around 20 percent by 2030.

Thomas Lorenzen, who spent more than a decade at the US Justice Department as its assistant chief in the Environment and Natural Resources Division and now is a partner at the international law firm of Dorsey & Whitney, said the president’s message was clear.

“EPA will continue to pursue aggressive regulation designed to tackle climate change, from its pending power plant regulations to the recently-announced efforts to address methane emitted by oil and gas production,” Lorenzen said. “Engagement with the agency on these issues therefore will continue to be critical, to ensure that any regulations make economic as well as environmental sense.”

The American Petroleum Institute’s president and CEO Jack Gerard said Obama’s remarks about oil and natural gas in his State of the Union address “fell short of acknowledging the true impact of our energy renaissance on the US economy.”

“Oil and natural gas companies are leading the way to cut emissions without new and costly regulations that could actually complicate existing regulations,” Gerard said. “US carbon emissions are close to 20-year lows thanks largely to natural gas, and methane emissions from hydraulic fracturing have fallen by 73 percent since 2011, according to the government’s own data,” Gerard said.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story’s headline incorrectly said “Keystone Pipeline Absent from State of the Union.”

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3 thoughts on “Keystone Pipeline Plays Minor Role in State of the Union

  1. Actually the President did mention the XL Pipeline, although granted he didn’t make a large reference to it. Paraphrasing, he said we should bypass the pipeline and focus on (more important issues which he named). It was the only reference to the pipeline but he did say it.

    It was just a quick reference but an important one.

  2. The American Petroleum Institute’s president and CEO Jack Gerard is being extremely disingenuous with respect to his remarks that “Oil and natural gas companies are leading the way to cut emissions without new and costly regulations”.
    For example, the EPA states the following from the link http://www.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/pdfs/20120417fs.pdf :
    1) “On April 17, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued cost-effective regulations to reduce harmful air pollution from the oil and natural gas industry while allowing continued, responsible growth … The final rules include the first federal air standards for natural gas wells that are hydraulically fractured”. In light of this, Gerard’s statement that “methane emissions from hydraulic fracturing have fallen by 73 percent since 2011” is seen to actually imply that the reduction since 2011 is due largely to the EPA rule issued in 2012, and is not due to any voluntary industry initiatives.
    2) “A key component of the final rules is expected to yield a nearly 95 percent reduction in VOCs emitted from more than 11,000 new hydraulically fractured gas wells each year”.
    3) “Some states, such as Wyoming and Colorado, require green completions, as do some cities, including Fort Worth and Southlake, Texas. In addition, data provided to EPA’s Natural Gas STAR program show that a number of companies are using green completions voluntarily”. So, at least Gerard is not totally lying about voluntary industry initiatives. But it is disingenuous to suggest that such industry initiatives are wholly, or largely, to thank for any reductions.
    4) “Oil and natural gas production and processing accounts for nearly 40 percent of all U.S. methane emissions, making the industry the nation’s single largest methane source.”
    5) “Today’s rules also would yield significant reductions in methane”. Again, this statement makes it clear that the industry is manifestly not achieving methane emission reductions purely through voluntary, industry-led actions – as Gerard implies. Instead, the reductions are driven largely by EPA rules – and in the absence of EPA rules, the industry would likely have continued ‘business as usual’ with little regard for fugitive methane emissions.
    6) “An estimated 11,400 new wells are fractured each year; EPA estimates another 1,400 existing wells are re-fractured”. So this whole issue is a significant one and is therefore more than worthy of EPA attention and rule making…

  3. “21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure — modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet. Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this. So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.”


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