A new analysis of the hidden costs to society presented by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline estimates the damage to human health, property, the environment, and the climate could easily top $100 billion per year.
The new report by Oil Change International comes on the heels of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analysis prepared for the State Department detailing the serious risks posed by the proposed pipeline, which would move thousands of barrels of highly toxic diluted bitumen (dilbit) oil through the middle U.S. from Canada to the Gulf Coast. The EPA’s sharp criticism of the plan was submitted to the State Department on April 22, during a public comment period that drew more than a million comments, most of them objections.
“Americans are fed up with footing the bill for corporate pollution. The Keystone XL Pipeline will cause billions of dollars in damages every year that no one wants to pay,” said Oil Change International’s Research Director Lorne Stockman. “TransCanada is proposing a massive wealth transfer from our own pockets to Big Oil — we will pay in hospital visits, rebuilding after super storms, and in clean-up efforts in communities like Mayflower and Kalamazoo. That’s outrageous, and President Obama should reject this pipeline immediately as a lose-lose gamble.”
Fears of the proposed pipeline have escalated in recent months after pipeline breaches and other disasters have spilled oil and gas onto our land and in our water. Most recently, ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline spilled a highly toxic and difficult-to-clean form of dilbit oil in Mayflower, Ark., sickening dozens and forcing the evacuation of several homes.
That spill was preceded by a number of other disasters, including the Enbridge spill of Canadian tar sands oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River, and of course BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, one of the largest and costliest spills to happen anywhere in the world.
Oil Change calculated the $100-billion cost by multiplying the Keystone pipeline’s estimated carbon footprint of 181 million metric tons of CO2 per year with the social costs of carbon at $532 per ton. Although the organization concedes that “the exact social cost of carbon pollution is hard to pinpoint,” the study “lays out the full range of possibilities” in the full report, none of which are favorable to the American public.