Friday, April 11, 2014

Scientists Urge Rejection of Keystone XL Pipeline

April 7, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Secretary John Kerry
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear President Obama and Secretary Kerry,

As scientists and economists, we are concerned about climate change and its impacts. We urge you to reject the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline as a project that will contribute to climate change at a time when we should be doing all we can to put clean energy alternatives in place.

As you both have made clear, climate change is a very serious problem. We must address climate change by decarbonizing our energy supply. A critical first step is to stop making climate change worse by tapping into disproportionately carbon-intensive energy sources like tar sands bitumen. The Keystone XL pipeline will drive expansion of the energy-intensive strip-mining and drilling of tar sands from under Canada’s Boreal forest, increasing global carbon emissions. Keystone XL is a step in the wrong direction.

President Obama, you said in your speech in Georgetown last year that “allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

We agree that climate impact is important and evidence shows that Keystone XL will significantly contribute to climate change. Fuels produced from tar sands result in more greenhouse gas emissions over their lifecycle than fuels produced from conventional oil, including heavy crudes processed in some Gulf Coast refineries. As the main pathway for tar sands to reach overseas markets, the Keystone XL pipeline would cause a sizeable expansion of tar sands production and also an increase in the related greenhouse gas pollution. The State Department review confirmed this analysis under the scenario that best meets the reality of the opposition to alternative pipeline proposals and the higher costs of other ways of transporting diluted bitumen such as rail. The review found:
“The total lifecycle emissions associated with production, refining, and combustion of 830,000 bpd of oil sands crude oil is approximately 147 to 168 MMTCO2e per year. The annual lifecycle GHG emissions from 830,000 bpd of the four reference crudes examined in this section are estimated to be 124 to 159 MMTCO2e. The range of incremental GHG emissions for crude oil that would be transported by the proposed Project is estimated to be 1.3 to 27.4 MMTCO2e annually.”
To put these numbers into perspective, the potential incremental annual emissions of 27.4 MMTCO2e is more than the emissions that seven coal-fired power plants emit in one year. And over the 50-year expected lifespan of the pipeline, the total emissions from Keystone XL could amount to as much as 8.4 billion metric tons CO2e. These are emissions that can and should be avoided with a transition to clean energy.

The contribution of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to climate change is real and important, especially given the commitment of the United States and other world leaders to stay within two degrees Celsius of global warming. And yet, the State Department environmental review chose an inconsistent model for its “most likely” scenarios, using business-as-usual energy scenarios that would lead to a catastrophic six degrees Celsius rise in global warming. Rejecting Keystone XL is necessary for the United States to be consistent with its climate commitments. Six degrees Celsius of global warming has no place in a sound climate plan.

Secretary Kerry, in your speech in Jakarta, you said, “The science of climate change is leaping out at us like a scene from a 3D movie – warning us – compelling us to act.” Rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would be a decision based on sound science.

The world is looking to the United States to lead through strong climate action at home. This includes rejecting projects that will make climate change worse such as the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.


John Abraham, Ph.D.
University of St. Thomas

Philip W. Anderson, Ph.D.
Nobel Prize (Physics 1977)
Emeritus Professor
Princeton University

Tim Arnold, Ph.D.
Assistant Project Scientist Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

Kenneth J. Arrow, Ph.D.
Nobel Prize (Economics 1972) Professor emeritus of Economics and of
Management Science and Engineering
Stanford University

Roger Bales, Ph.D.
Professor of Engineering
University of California, Merced

Paul H. Beckwith, M.S.
Part-time professor: climatology/meteorology
Department of Geography
University of Ottawa

Anthony Bernhardt, Ph.D.
Physicist and Program Leader (retired)
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Damien C. Brady, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marine Science Darling Marine Center
University of Maine

Julie A. Brill, Ph.D.
Director, Collaborative Program in Developmental Biology, and Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics
University of Toronto
Senior Scientist, Cell Biology Program
The Hospital for Sick Children

Gary Brouhard, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
McGill University

Ken Caldeira, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
Carnegie Institution for Science

Grant Cameron, Ph.D.
Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP) Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

Shelagh D. Campbell, Ph.D.
Professor, Biological Sciences
University of Alberta

Kai M. A. Chan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor & Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services)
Graduate Advisor, RMES Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability
University of British Columbia

Eugene Cordero, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Meteorology and Climate Science
San Jose State University

Rosemary Cornell, Ph.D.
Professor, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Simon Fraser University

Gretchen C. Daily, Ph.D.
Bing Professor of Environmental Science
Stanford University

Timothy Daniel, Ph.D.
U.S. Federal Trade Commission

Miriam Diamond, Ph.D.
Department of Earth Sciences
Cross-appointed to:
Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Sciences
Dalla Lana School of Public Health
School of the Environment
Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences
University of Toronto

Lawrence M. Dill, Ph.D., FRSC
Professor Emeritus
Simon Fraser University

Simon Donner, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Geography
University of British Columbia

Roland Droitsch, Ph.D.
KM21 Associates

Nicholas Dulvy, Ph.D.
Professor, Canada Research Chair in Marine Biodiversity
and Conservation Biological Sciences
Simon Fraser University

Steve Easterbrook, Ph.D.
Professor of Computer Science
University of Toronto

Anne Ehrlich, Ph.D.
Biology Department
Stanford University

Paul R. Ehrlich, Ph.D.
Bing Professor of Population Studies and President, Center for Conservation Biology
Stanford University

Henry Erlich, Ph.D.
Center for Genetics
Children’s Hospital Research Institute

Alejandro Frid, Ph.D.
Science Coordinator
Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance

Konrad Gajewski, Ph.D.
Laboratory for Paleoclimatology and Climatology
Department of Geography
University of Ottawa

Eric Galbraith, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Earth and Planetary Science
McGill University

Geoffrey Gearheart, Ph.D.
Scientist, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Biomedicine Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

Alexander J. Glass, Ph.D.
Emeritus Associate Director
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

John R. Glover, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Biochemistry
University of Toronto

Ursula Goodenough, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Biology
Washington University in St. Louis

Stephanie Green, Ph.D.
David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow
Oregon State University

Steven Hackett, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics Associated Faculty, Energy Technology & Policy
Humboldt State University

Joshua B. Halpern, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Chemistry
Howard University

Alexandra Hangsterfer, M.S.
Geological Collections Manager Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

James Hansen, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor
Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions
Columbia University Earth Institute

John Harte, Ph.D.
Professor of Ecosystem Sciences
Energy and Resources Group
University of California, Berkeley

H. Criss Hartzell, Ph.D.
Emory University School of Medicine

Danny Harvey, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Geography
University of Toronto

Rodrick A. Hay, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor of Geography College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences
California State University Dominguez Hills

Karen Holl, Ph.D.
Professor of Environmental Studies
University of California, Santa Cruz

Robert Howarth, Ph.D.
The David R. Atkinson Professor of
Ecology & Environmental Biology
Cornell University

Jonathan Isham, Jr., Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
Middlebury College

Andrew Iwaniuk, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
University of Lethbridge

Mark Jaccard, Ph.D., FRSC
School of Resource and Environmental Management
Simon Fraser University

Louise E. Jackson, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
University of California Davis

Pete Jumars, Ph.D.
Professor of Marine Sciences
Darling Marine Center
University of Maine

David Keith, Ph.D.
Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS); and,
Professor of Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University

Jeremy T. Kerr, Ph.D.
University Research Chair in
Macroecology and Conservation Professor of Biology
University of Ottawa

Bryan Killett, Ph.D.
Jet Propulsion Lab

Keith W. Kisselle, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology & Environmental Science Academic Chair of Center for Environmental Studies
Austin College

Janet E. Kübler, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
California State University at Northridge

Sherman Lewis, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
California State University Hayward

Michael E. Loik, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Environmental Studies
University of California, Santa Cruz

Michael C. MacCracken, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs
Climate Institute

Scott A. Mandia, M.S.
Professor/Asst. Chair, Department of Physical Sciences
Suffolk County Community College

Michael Mann, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor and Director of Earth System Science Center
Penn State University

Adam Martiny, Ph.D.
Associate Professor in Marine Science Department of Earth System Science
University of California, Irvine

Damon Matthews, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and
Concordia University Research Chair
Geography, Planning and Environment
Concordia University

James J. McCarthy, Ph.D.
Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography
Harvard University

Susan K. McConnell, Ph.D.
Susan B. Ford Professor Dunlevie Family University Fellow Department of Biology
Stanford University

Dominick Mendola, Ph.D.
Senior Development Engineer Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

Faisal Moola, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Forestry
University of Toronto; and,
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies
York University

William Moomaw, Ph.D.
Professor, The Fletcher School
Tufts University

Jens Mühle, Dr. rer. nat.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

Richard B. Norgaard, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Energy and Resources
University of California, Berkeley

Gretchen North, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
Occidental College

Dana Nuccitelli, M.S.
Environmental Scientist
Tetra Tech, Inc.

Michael Oppenheimer, Ph.D.
Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs
Princeton University

Wendy J. Palen, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Earth to Ocean Research Group
Simon Fraser University

Edward A. Parson, Ph.D.
Dan and Rae Emmett Professor of Environmental Law
Faculty Co-Director
Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment
UCLA School of Law

Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, Ph.D.
Louis Block Professor in the Geophysical Sciences
The University of Chicago

Richard Plevin, Ph.D.
Research Scientist NextSTEPS (Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways) Institute of Transportation Studies
University of California, Davis

John Pollack, M.S.
Meteorologist; and,
National Weather Service forecaster (retired)

Jessica Dawn Pratt, Ph.D.
Education & Outreach Coordinator Center for Environmental Biology
University of California, Irvine

Lynne M. Quarmby, Ph.D.
Professor & Chair
Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
Simon Fraser University

Rebecca Rolph, M.S.
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Hamburg, Germany; and,
Klimacampus, University of Hamburg

Thomas Roush, MD
Columbia University School of Public Health (retired)

Maureen Ryan, Ph.D.
Research Associate, Simon Fraser University; and,
Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Washington

Anne K. Salomon, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of Resource and Environmental Management
Simon Fraser University

Casey Schmidt, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor Desert Research Institute
Division of Hydrologic Sciences

Peter C. Schulze, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology & Environmental Science Director, Center for Environmental Studies
Austin College

Jason Scorse, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Monterrey Institute of International Studies
Middlebury College

Jamie Scott, MD, Ph.D.
Professor and Canada Research Chair
Department of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
Faculty of Science and Faculty of Health Sciences
Simon Fraser University

Michael A. Silverman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Simon Fraser University

Leonard S. Sklar, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Earth & Climate Sciences Department
San Francisco State University

Jerome A. Smith, Ph.D.
Research Oceanographer Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

Richard C. J. Somerville, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

Brandon M. Stephens, M.S.
Graduate Student Researcher Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

John M. R. Stone, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor
Carleton University

David Suzuki, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor
Sustainable Development Research Institute
University of British Columbia

Jennifer Taylor, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
University of California, San Diego

Michael S. Tift, M.S.
Doctoral Student Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

Cali Turner Tomaszewicz, M.S.
Doctoral Student, Biological Sciences
Department of Ecology, Behavior & Evolution
University of California, San Diego

Till Wagner, Ph.D.
Scientist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

Barrie Webster, Ph.D.
Professor (retired)
University of Manitoba

Richard Weinstein, Ph.D.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Anthony LeRoy Westerling, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of
Environmental Engineering and Geography
University of California, Merced

Mark L. Winston, Ph.D., FRSC
Academic Director and Fellow, Center for Dialogue
Simon Fraser University

George M. Woodwell, Ph.D.
Member, National Academy of Sciences, and
Founder and Director Emeritus
The Woods Hole Research Center

Kirsten Zickfeld, Ph.D.
Professor of Climatology
Simon Fraser University

1 comment:

  1. A past president and Nobel prize winners urge rejection of the Keystone XL pollution pipe: Link and Link.