TransCanada Argues That Recent Emissions Commitments Build The Case For Keystone XL

06/30/2015 05:04 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2015

WASHINGTON -- TransCanada, the company seeking to build the controversial pipeline that would carry oil from Alberta to refineries in Texas, is leaning on Secretary of State John Kerry to make a permitting decision.

In letter to Kerry and other State Department officials, TransCanada's executive vice president and general counsel Kristine Delkus argues that because Canada has announced various steps to curb its overall greenhouse gas emissions, the United States should allow the Keystone XL pipeline to go forward.

"As the Department found with respect to the original Keystone Pipeline, the proposed Keystone XL Project clearly serves the energy security interests of the United States by delivering necessary crude oil supplies from America’s largest and most reliable trading partner and displacing reliance on crude oil from nations that do not share the same interests, democratic values, or rigorous environmental regulation," she wrote. "America will need this oil for the foreseeable future and Canada is by any measure the best source."

TransCanada points to Alberta's recent commitment to increase the province's carbon fee for 2016 and 2017, and Canada's announcement in May that it intends to cut emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The company also points to the recent commitment from G7 countries, including Canada, to phase out fossil fuels by 2100, with no apparent sense of irony.

TransCanada pointed to its portfolio of "emission-less energy," which includes wind farms, solar installations and hydropower, arguing that it is "a salient factor in the Department’s consideration of TransCanada’s application."

The company also highlights President Barack Obama's 2013 climate speech, in which he said the US should only approve the pipeline if it "does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution," and the final environmental impact analysis the State Department released in January 2014 that concluded the construction of a single pipeline was "unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands." And they note that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said in March when asked about Keystone that she didn't think "any one issue is a disaster for the climate."

"The Administrator's comments demonstrate again that the proposed project clearly meets the President’s test for a positive national interest determination," Delkus wrote.

In comments to the State Department, however, the EPA was critical of the conclusion about how much the pipeline would impact emissions. Other evaluations have also determined the pipeline would enable increased development of the oil sands and thus, higher emissions.

These developments "are all consistent with the President’s stance on not exacerbating the risk of climate change, as is TransCanada’s own clean energy footprint," the company argued.

The Obama administration asked agencies to file their comments on the Keystone XL application by February 2, but has not indicated since then when it might issue its final decision.

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