Former Obama Science Official Backs Keystone XL Pipeline

Pipe is stacked at the southern site of the Keystone XL pipeline on March 22, 2012 in Cushing, Oklahoma. U.S. President Barack Obama is pressing federal agencies to expedite the section of the Keystone XL pipeline between Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast.
National Journal
Ben Geman
Add to Briefcase
Ben Geman
Feb. 20, 2014, 1:14 p.m.

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.

What We're Following See More »
FROM THE RIGHT AND THE CENTER
Nine Senate Republicans Vote Against BRCA
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
TURNED OVER NOTES
Manafort Testifies in Closed Session
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Paul Manafort, who served as a top aide to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, on Tuesday provided congressional investigators notes he took during a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer that has emerged as a focus in the investigation of Russian interference in the election. Manafort’s submission, which came as he was interviewed in a closed session by staff members for the Senate Intelligence Committee, could offer a key contemporaneous account of the June 2016 session."

Source:
PENCE BREAKS THE TIE
Senate Will Debate House Bill
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

By the narrowest of margins, the Senate voted 51-50 this afternoon to begin debate on the House's legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins defected from the GOP, but Vice President Pence broke a tie. Sen. John McCain returned from brain surgery to cast his vote.

Source:
WON’T SAY IF HE’LL FIRE HIM
Trump “Disappointed” in Sessions
9 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

“'It’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement,'” Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. 'I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.'”

Source:
MURKOWSKI, COLLINS VOTE NAY
Republicans Reach 50 Votes to Proceed on Health Bill
9 hours ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login