Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Former Obama Science Official Backs Keystone XL Pipeline Former Obama Science Official Backs Keystone XL Pipeline

This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

Energy

Former Obama Science Official Backs Keystone XL Pipeline

Former Obama administration officials are coming down on different sides of the Keystone XL pipeline battle.(Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

photo of Ben Geman
February 20, 2014

Marcia McNutt, a scientist who headed the U.S. Geological Survey under President Obama until early 2013, announced Thursday that she now supports approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

McNutt is now the top editor at Science magazine. In an editorial published there Thursday, McNutt describes how she has come to back the project that she previously opposed, and does not believe it would worsen greenhouse-gas emissions.

"This position may seem incongruous with my personal crusade to minimize fossil fuel use, a desire rooted in scientific understanding that climate change is a real threat and that tar sands oil produces higher GHG emissions than many alternatives," writes McNutt.

 

But McNutt goes on to say she's now convinced that building Keystone would not speed up oil sands development, and notes that developer TransCanada changed the initial proposed route to avoid an ecologically sensitive region of Nebraska.

"No
 method for moving hydrocarbons can be considered completely fail-safe. At least the current permitting process can, and should, be used to ensure that Keystone XL sets new standards for environmental safety. There is no similar leverage on the truck and rail transportation options, which produce higher GHG emissions and have a greater risk of spills, at a higher cost for transport," she writes.

McNutt also served as science adviser to former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar when both were in the Obama administration.

McNutt, who holds a Ph.D. in earth sciences from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, is now one of several former Obama administration officials who have weighed in on Keystone as the federal review continues.

Salazar said this month that he believes Keystone should be built, and former National Security Adviser Tom Donilon recently said he would recommend approval if he were still in the administration.

Former climate czar Carol Browner and former White House spokesman Bill Burton are among the Obama administration veterans who oppose Keystone.

McNutt believes there should be some strings attached to approval of Keystone, TransCanada's project that would bring oil from Alberta's oil-sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.

She suggested that Obama could link approval to "concessions" and policies that help spur green-energy development and stem carbon emissions.

"As part of a compromise to allow the project to move forward, let's now insist on an income stream from Keystone XL revenues to support investment in renewable energy sources to secure our energy future," she writes.

LIKE THIS STORY? Sign up for Energy Edge

Sign up for our daily newsletter and stay on top of energy coverage.

Sign up form for Energy Edge
Job Board
Search Jobs
Digital and Content Manager, E4C
American Society of Civil Engineers | New York, NY
PRODUCT REVIEW ENGINEER
American Society of Civil Engineers | CA
Neighborhood Traffic Safety Services Intern
American Society of Civil Engineers | Bellevue, WA
United Technologies Research Fellow
American Society of Civil Engineers | New York, NY
Process Engineering Co-op
American Society of Civil Engineers | Conshohocken, PA
Electrical Engineer Co-op
American Society of Civil Engineers | Findlay, OH
Application Engineer/Developer INTERN - Complex Fluids
American Society of Civil Engineers | Brisbane, CA
Application Engineer - Internships CAE/CFD Metro Detroit
American Society of Civil Engineers | Livonia, MI
Chief Geoscientist
American Society of Civil Engineers
Application Engineer - Internships CAE/CFD Metro Boston
American Society of Civil Engineers | Burlington, MA
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Civil Enginering Intern - Water/Wastewater/Site-Development
American Society of Civil Engineers | Sacramento, CA
Staff Accountant
American Society of Civil Engineers | Englewood, CO
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
 
Comments
comments powered by Disqus