The State Department’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline permit, released on March 1, concludes that dirty tar sands oil will move to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries by rail if the pipeline is disapproved. Therefore, the State Department asserts, there will be no difference in the amount of carbon pollution emitted from the increased production of tar sands oil regardless of Keystone approval.
An in-depth analysis of this claim by Reuters reporter Patrick Rucker debunks it. Reuters determined that “Oil-by-train may not be a substitute for Keystone pipeline.” If only small amounts of the dirty tar sands oil can move to the Gulf Coast by rail, then approval of Keystone would indeed facilitate a huge increase in tar sands oil production and carbon pollution.
The Canadian government and big oil companies claim that there will be a huge expansion in tar sands oil regardless of whether Keystone is built, so its approval will not lead to an increase in carbon pollution. The SEIS declares on page ES-15:
Based on information and analysis about the North American crude transport infrastructure (particularly the proven ability of rail to transport substantial quantities of crude oil ...