WASHINGTON – In a shift in strategy, the company that wants to build an oil pipeline from western Canada to Texas said Tuesday that the project will have no measurable effect on global warming.
Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president for energy and oil pipelines, said opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline have grossly inflated its likely effect on emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
Canada represents just 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, Pourbaix said at a forum sponsored by a manufacturing group that supports the pipeline. Oil sands concentrated in Alberta, where the 1,700-mile pipeline would start, make up 5 percent of Canada’s total, Pourbaix said.
“Simple math tells us, therefore, that the oil sands represent only one-tenth of 1 percent of global greenhouse emissions,” he said. “Even if production from the oil sands were to double, the [greenhouse gas] contribution from the oil sands would be immaterial to global” greenhouse gas production.
Pourbaix’s comments came two days after a rally Sunday by pipeline opponents drew an estimated 35,000 people to Washington. Organizers, including the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, billed the event as the largest climate rally in U.S. history. Thousands of people marched past the White House to urge President Obama to reject the $7 billion pipeline and take other steps to fight climate change.
Opponents say the pipeline would carry “dirty oil” derived from tar sands that requires significantly more energy to produce than conventional crude oil and emits up to 20 percent more greenhouse gases.