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Obama ties Keystone XL decision to climate

06.25.2013  |  HP News Services

The US president said the controversial pipeline should be approved only if it doesn't "exacerbate" carbon pollution, as he unveiled a sweeping new plan to tackle climate change.

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By TENNILLE TRACY

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said Tuesday the controversial Keystone XL pipeline should be approved only if it doesn't "exacerbate" carbon pollution, as he unveiled a sweeping new plan to tackle climate change.

In a closely watched speech at Georgetown University, Mr. Obama also said he would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to create carbon standards for both new and existing power plants, one of the largest sources of greenhouse-gas emissions in the US.

"The planet is warming, and human activity is contributing to it," Mr. Obama said. He continued that "the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late."

On Keystone, Mr. Obama said the pipeline's climate impact would be critical to determining if it goes forward, but it wasn't immediately clear whether Mr. Obama's statement makes it more or less likely the pipeline will be approved.

Environmental groups say building the pipeline -- which stretches from Canada to US oil refineries on the Gulf Coast -- will lead to higher greenhouse-gas emissions by driving full development of oil sands in Canada. Oil sands produce more greenhouse gases than regular crude during extraction.

Mr. Obama called climate change a pressing issue that "demands our attention now."

The announcement on power plants was immediately embraced by environmental groups, which have pressed the Obama administration to regulate coal-fired power plants that are already in operation, some of which are decades old.

The EPA proposed a rule in 2012 to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from new power plants that virtually eliminated the possibility that new coal-fired plants would be built. The EPA hasn't yet finalized that rule, and some in the power sector believe the agency will have to make significant changes to the rule before doing so.

New rules from the EPA to address existing power plants will serve as a key component of Mr. Obama's climate-change plan but are likely to face both legal and political challenges. Republicans argue that the Clean Air Act wasn't designed to regulate carbon dioxide, but rather other harmful emissions.

In 2009, the EPA determined that greenhouse gases were harmful to human health and the environment, a finding that now serves as the bedrock for future action on addressing carbon-dioxide emissions.

Mr. Obama said critics of his plan may warn of lost jobs and economic damages. He said these were "tired excuses for inaction."


Dow Jones Newswires



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Richard W. Goodwin
06.27.2013

When a carbon material [coal, natural gas, petroleum etc.] is combusted in power plant or car, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are formed – Chemistry 101. As the price of natural gas has dropped to between $2-4/MMBTU electric utilities have switched from coal to natural gas from their energy generation resulting in CO2 emission reduction this year. The proposed regulations on GHG control will force electric utilities to not build new coal-fired power plants since Carbon Capture and Sequestration would increase capital cost by at least 30% and this technology has not been commercially demonstrated i.e. Future Gen II is not operating. The USA will become more dependent on Natural Gas; hopefully we will not see a return to 2008 $14/MMBTU prices.
The oil sands transported by XL pipeline would result in refined petrochemical products i.e. petroleum – contributing to CO automobile emissions. Please consider President’s Obama’s statement, that the he would approve XL Pipeline “only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution”. In my opinion, his statement is disingenuous since Chemistry 101 tells us that the end-product of the pipeline contents will generate CO.
Richard W. Goodwin West Palm Beach FL

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