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TheStreet Open House

The Keystone XL Pipeline Springs Another Leak

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A new study from Nature Climate shows calculations performed by the U.S. State Department on the environmental impact of the pipeline underestimated the global impact of carbon pollution by a factor of five.

The original State Department report estimated carbon emissions would increase by 1.3 million tons to 27.4 million tons. The new study now says greenhouse gases will increase by 100 to 110 million tons every year. Peter Erickson, co-author of the study and a researcher with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) said the U.S. failed to take into account potential emissions from the increase in the global oil supply.

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In June 2013 President Obama stated, "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."

The controversial pipeline will carry what is considered dirty sands oil from Western Canada through the heartland of the U.S to refineries in the gulf. The oil will be processed and then shipped overseas.

The reason for the change in the calculation, according to Nature Climate, is U.S estimates did not take into account that oil prices would drop by $3 a barrel, spurring more consumption and more pollution. Environmentalists will cheer the report but it is not likely to sway anyone else. Counter arguments will likely be made such as higher fuel efficiencies and other green energies will offset any added greenhouse increases.

According to the Washington Times, Independent energy economist Judith Dwarkin in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, dismissed the study, faulting the idea that added oil production will lower the price and boost demand. Usually, she said, it's consumption that spurs price and then oil production.

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In April the pipeline was placed on hold by the Obama Administration due to a Nebraska state court decision to invalidate the route of the pipeline. The case will be reviewed after the mid-term elections.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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