Keystone Pipeline and the ‘Social Cost of Carbon’

Randy Thompson, Merrick County, Nebraska, is leading the charge against this dirty oil pipeline.

Starting today in Washington, D.C., “we, the people” will raise our citizen voices against TransCanada/Cononco Keystone XL pipeline project. People will sit in front of the gates of the White House to bring attention to this issue. The Park Police will slap plastic handcuffs on them and keep them under custody for the day. Then, more than likely, fine ’em and let ’em go.

Somewhere between the brilliant chaos of Nebraska farmers, Jewish rabbis, office workers, Catholic priests and nuns, people hell-bent on saving the world, retirees, indigenous leaders, bright-eyed youth, the “temporarily unemployed,” and hundreds of other regular folks risking arrest on the White House sidewalk and the stunningly powerful government-speak of the EPA’s comment on just how bad this pipeline is I find a refreshing mix that is democracy.

“Moreover, recognizing the proposed Project’s life time is expected to be at least fifty years, we believe it is important to be clear that under at least one scenario, the extra GHG [green house gas] emissions associated with this proposed Proje ct may range from 600 million to 1.15 billion tons CO2-e, assuming the lifecycle analysis holds over time (and using the SDEIS’ [State Departments Environmental Impact Statement] quantitative estimates as a basis). In addition, we recommend that the Final EIS explore other means to characterize the impact of the GHG emissions, including an estimate of the “social cost of carbon” associated with potential increases of GHG emissions.

The social cost of carbon includes, but is not limited to, climate damages due to changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damages from flood risk, and ecosystem services due to climate change. Federal agencies use the social cost of carbon to incorporate the social benefits of reducing CO2 emissions into analyses of regulatory actions that have a marginal impact on cumulative global emissions; the social cost of carbon is also used to calculate the negative impacts of regulatory actions that increase CO2 emissions.”–Cynthia Giles, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (letter 6 June 2011)

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