Over 100 scientists and economists call for rejection of Keystone XL pipeline

Photo courtesy of Tar Sands Action.
Over 100 scientists and economists urged President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to reject the Keystone XL tar sands in a letter today. The contested 1,897-km pipeline would have the capacity to transport up to 830,000 barrels of tar sands bitumen from Alberta to refineries in Texas.

The letter criticizes the "carbon-intensive" process of extracting bitumen, and says building the Keystone XL pipeline would "significantly contribute" to the problem of climate change:

"As you both have made clear, climate change is a very serious problem. We must address climate change by decarbonizing our energy supply. A critical first step is to stop making climate change worse by tapping into disproportionately carbon-intensive energy sources like tar sands bitumen. The Keystone XL pipeline will drive expansion of the energy-intensive strip-mining and drilling of tar sands from under Canada’s Boreal forest, increasing global carbon emissions. Keystone XL is a step in the wrong direction.   

...We agree that climate impact is important and evidence shows that Keystone XL will significantly contribute to climate change. Fuels produced from tar sands result in more greenhouse gas emissions over their lifecycle than fuels produced from conventional oil, including heavy crudes processed in some Gulf Coast refineries.

The list of scientists and economists who signed the letter include: 
  • Dr. Philip W. Anderson, winner of the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physics alongside Sir Nevill Francis Mott and John Hasbrouck van Vleck.

  • Dr. Kenneth J. Arrow, who won the 1972 Nobel Prize in Economics alongside John Hicks for contributions to economic equilibrium theory and welfare theory.
  • Fellows of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) including Dr. James McCarthy, Dr. Richard Norgaard, and Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, and Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) including Dr. Mark Jaccard, Dr. Lawrence Dill, and Dr. Mark Winston. 

  • Canadian scientists and economists including Dr. David Suzuki, Dr. David Keith, 2006 winner of Canadian Geographic’s “Environmentalist of the Year”, who teaches at Harvard. 

The full text of the letter can be accessed here. 

Read More:

More in News

Photo of grizzly bear by Sophie Wright

Grizzly bear population at risk as B.C. Liberal government aligns with trophy hunters

Dressed in a black cowboy hat, B.C. Premier Christy Clark beams at the camera as she accepts the President's Award from the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. The year is 2012, and the outfitters...
SFU scientists among Stanford’s Leopold Leadership fellows

SFU scientists among Stanford’s Leopold Leadership fellows

Training to focus on effectively communicating scientific research related to environmental sustainability
BC to regulate the term “organic”

BC to regulate the term “organic”

All products marketed as “organic” will have to be certified under a provincial or national certification program.
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.

The problem is deeper.

Cons convicted of election fraud in 2006, with over $200k paid in fines, but not a single day of jail time for this major crime.

Cons convicted of election fraud in 2008, with Dean Del Maestro and Peter Penashue charged.

Election fraud confirmed in 2011, with foreign newspapers calling the election "a sham" and "rigged"; CIMS database confirmed the source of the data used to perpetrate the fraud, which is encrypted, password-locked, access-logged, and access is restricted to high-ranking Cons only.


Denounce Harpler's reign as illegitimate.  Write your MP, sign the petition, get vocal, our rights are at stake.

Jail, repeal, severe audit.

No Tar Sands

The Keystone XL pipeline should not be built, because a tar sands spill down into the Ogallala Aquifer will poison the drinking water for millions and will destroy the agriculture on the Great Plains states. The tar sands have to be refined into synthetic crude oil before transporting. To avoid the Big Oil/Texas energy rip-off, plug your Tesla S electric car into your household, solar array.

Ogallala Aquifer

The proposed pipeline avoids the aquifer and duplicates an existing pipeline.

The US doesn't need our bitumen, they would only export it, so I am delighted the Climate Crazies are preventing Keystone even if it is for the wrong reason.

BTW there has been No global warming for 17 years 8 months

oil pipeline

how would you prefer this oil/crude to be transported?

the only other option would seem too be by rail.

that is definitely not smart. given the derailments & subsequent contamination/destruction that has happened to date. I guess none of these people live near rail lines where there is a huge increase in the number of oil trains every day.

There are literally thousands

There are literally thousands and thousands (and thousands) of miles of pipeline all over North America.  Stopping Keystone just means more dangerous transport (and more CO2) via rail.  By choosing this hill to die on, the environmental industry has just proven its incapacity for reason, and its addiction to symbolism over practical results.  David Suzuki is entirely unqualified in the relevant fields and his opinions on anything scientific, esp. given his recent debacle in Australia, should be discarded immediately.

If the enviro-minions would like to make a real impact, they and their families should massively cut back on the oil products they use.  Demand is what is driving oil sands exploration and fracking.  If you want to stop the problem, stop contributing to the demand.


Keystone XL and carbon tax

The pros and cons of the Keystone XL pipeline can be debated at length but a universal carbon tax is the only answer to fight climate change. This has been recognized by Shell, BP and Statoil, who together with the third largest airline, Cathay Pacific and about  100 other multinationals signed the Carbon Price Communiqué. Exxon Mobil reconfirmed in a Bloomberg Business Week article that they prefer a carbon tax over cap and trade.


An environmental website gives this explanation for the oil company’s stand:


“The most obvious reason why big oil and gas companies would support a huge new tax on their own products is that it would kill coal first.  Burning coal emits roughly twice as much carbon dioxide as producing the same amount of energy by burning natural gas. That would provide a huge incentive for utilities to switch to natural gas.  Exxon Mobil owns the world’s largest privately-owned reserves of natural gas.  Shell and BP also own huge gas reserves.”


Cathay Pacific may look at efficiency. Apparently their airplanes are quite fuel efficient .It can be speculated that they would welcome high fuel prices to further enhance their competitive position until other airlines have obtained more fuel efficient planes.


From the above it follows that a global carbon tax would result in substantial GHG reduction for power generation and air travel without having to encourage it with complex subsidies. Despite all this good news the carbon tax has been politicised to such extent that the general public is not aware that many studies have shown that carbon pricing does not hurt the economy. In the US and Canada there are several organisations who publish tables showing how much the average family would pay for carbon tax without showing how much they would get back through lower income taxes and special grants. This has left the impression that it is a tax grab rather than a tax shift to make green energy more competitive. In BC all the carbon tax money has to be refunded to taxpayers and the poor. By law the province has to give a yearly account on how that has been achieved.  The BC carbon tax has resulted in a 17% reduction in consumption of petroleum products without loss of GDP. Yet our federal government refuses to initiate a national carbon tax or join in negotiations for a global tax. No tax and high per capita emissions puts Canada in an awkward position. Environmentalists rank Canada as # 58 and the US as #43 out of 61 countries based on 5 criteria. Denmark, Sweden and Portugal are #1,2 and 3  so it is no wonder the Europeans and even  Americans want to stop our pipeline expansion. In London the Canadian Prime Minister was met by 30 protest organisations from both sides of the Atlantic while 6 MPs tabled a motion to keep Canada’s Alberta oil out of Europe.


Insufficient pipeline capacity means that we have to sell our oil at bargain prices. Alberta’s Energy minister estimated the losses at $20-$30 billion per year. This must have resulted in many billions of lost tax revenue for Ottawa, which could have been used to improve public transit and fund other green projects. Until a global carbon tax has been established demand for oil will keep rising and it makes no difference in the world’s GHG emission whether we supply it or give the business to other countries. Since we don’t want to ship more oil by rail we have to look seriously at all pipeline proposals. There is a lot of technical information about pipelines and marine transport available on the internet. It is not published in newspapers and magazines but is essential information to form an opinion about pipeline projects. Many of the previous disasters were caused by inadequate instrumentation extreme cost cutting and insufficient oversight. Many details about pipelines and carbon tax can be found on neilwilhees.blogspot.ca  It must be recognized that a global carbon tax would allow us to tax our exports without unfair competition. At the present BC tax rate of $30 per ton of CO2 we would cash in another $9 per barrel of oil and  $53 - $62 per ton of coal. Please email Mr Harper at [email protected] and let him know how important carbon tax is and ask him to get on with it


False Facts

The web link you've attached to your comment was written by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, who has no authority or scientific credentials at all but specifically none pertaining to climate change. Although he has been used in some high profile situations to speak out against climate change it has only been in situations by and for oil producers. To say that he is biased, unqualified and unreliable would be a gross understatement. Many top scientists have spoken out against his qualifications and proven him wrong.

Perhaps this article will better inform you. It references over 700 world scientists.


It can be tempting to reference any bit of information that will prove our point, despite its validity, but the difference between one opinion on climate change and another is fact. Science is not political and it's sole purpose is truth. The fear of climate change is the real cause of climate denial and oil companies, lobby groups, politicians and governments have capitalized on this.

We all owe it to ourselves to be better informed, learn to distinguish good science from bad science, and truth from lies.

It will be hard because most people have no scientific background and will turn to whatever speaks to their own ill informed beliefs which are usually based on fear or self interest and in truth that's easy to understand. An oil worker in Alberta will understandably feel conflicted because his/her lively hood becomes threatened with talk of climate change. And fear of the end result of climate change is nothing less than an extinction level event...and that can be a hard pill for anyone to swallow.

It has also become near impossible to get truth in the media. How can two different news organizations, with two different scientists report stories so contradictory. We need to learn to follow t he money...and ask our self...who benefits from these stories. What we have learned, without doubt is that there is an information war going on and the two sides look like this:

One side makes a lot of money, and increases its power, and another...averts nothing less than the end of the human race.

Knowledge is power. We owe it to ourselves to seek the truth.

The world is watching Canada, and we all have everything riding on the outcome...and the clock's ticking.

Judy Cross wrote:

The proposed pipeline avoids the aquifer and duplicates an existing pipeline.

The US doesn't need our bitumen, they would only export it, so I am delighted the Climate Crazies are preventing Keystone even if it is for the wrong reason.

BTW there has been No global warming for 17 years 8 months

Climate Blame "BELIEF" was a war crime!


Another 32 years of science never being more than 95% certain if THE END IS NEAR brings us closer to the day history judges this Reefer Madness of climate blame as a pure war crime for needlessly condemning billions of innocent children to the greenhouse gas ovens of an exaggerated "crisis". Can we evolve?

Real progressives are up to date;

*Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.

*Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).

you do that

Earl Richards wrote:

The Keystone XL pipeline should not be built, because a tar sands spill down into the Ogallala Aquifer will poison the drinking water for millions and will destroy the agriculture on the Great Plains states. The tar sands have to be refined into synthetic crude oil before transporting. To avoid the Big Oil/Texas energy rip-off, plug your Tesla S electric car into your household, solar array.


 Good luck with that in the winter, when the cold kills battery life. Never mind the shallow angle of the sun renders solar cells ridiculously inefficient. And that's on the days without clouds.