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The Climate Post: After Tar Sands Pipeline Decision Delayed, Other Routes Sought

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DARYL HANNAH OIL SANDS
AP

The Obama administration delayed deciding whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which has been proposed to carry tar sands from Canada to Texas's Gulf Coast. The administration said it should consider alternate routes and wait until early 2013 to decide.

Industry officials in Canada thought the delay may derail the pipeline, and threaten the country's aim of becoming a top oil producer. To maintain high prices for Canadian oil, there is an urgent need for new means of export, including to Asia, argued the Globe and Mail.

Meanwhile Republican lawmakers proposed a bill for speeding up the review process, and TransCanada Corp., the company proposing the pipeline, argued the approval could come in six to nine months.

In Nebraska, the pipeline has met opposition in part because of fears the pipeline would threaten the vast Ogallala Aquifer that underlies much of the state and the ecologically sensitive Sandhills region.

Nebraska's legislature voted unanimously, earlier this week, for a bill to re-route the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as for a separate bill to establish authority for the state to regulate pipeline routes within its borders. In response, TransCanada Corp. has proposed a different route through Nebraska.

Diplomacy and Downsizing

The U.S. Department of State, which has been in charge of reviewing the Keystone XL application, has opened a new branch, the Bureau of Energy Resources. The new bureau, a result of a review that began in 2009, will aim to strengthen "energy diplomacy."

The State Department's special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs said the main goal is not energy independence for the U.S., since the country is tightly linked with global markets. The new bureau will push for increased use of natural gas around the world as a replacement for burning oil to generate electricity.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) is under fire for its handling of cleantech loans, in particular of solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu was scheduled to testify. Meanwhile an internal review at the DoE said the department spends too much on overhead and should restructure in preparation for downsizing forced by budget cuts likely to come.

Salvaging the Kyoto Essence

The upcoming climate talks in Durban, South Africa, are unlikely to make any huge strides, the Christian Science Monitor argued, but could make a crucial contribution by extending the Kyoto Protocol. Salvaging the essence of that agreement is the most important step, agreed Africa's chief negotiator at the talks, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for richer countries to follow through with their pledge for a $100 billion annual climate aid, and for the creation of a Green Climate Fund, both of which G-20 countries said they remain committed to recently. But the deepening economic problems in Europe may mean contributions to climate funds fall short of promises.

The Green Climate Fund has run into problems already, hampered by disagreements over how to structure it. Because of lack of transparency and possible double-counting of funds, it is difficult to say how much additional climate aid has actually been contributed, said Saleemul Huq of the International Institute for Environment and Development

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

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