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Entrepreneurs Urge State Department to Suspend Keystone XL Permitting

June 8, 2010

More than 250 business leaders, educators, and scientists have signed onto a letter asking the U.S. Department of State to suspend the permitting process for the Keystone XL pipeline. From the letter:

As members of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), we urge you to suspend the permitting process for the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline until the State Department is able to more fully evaluate the economic and environmental impacts of the project and the value of this project to the national interest. Permitting the Keystone XL pipeline is a long-term investment in tar sands oil, one of the most carbon and water intensive fuels available. If constructed this pipeline will undermine the U.S. commitment to a transition to clean, sustainable energy. . . .

Financial analysts consider tar sands oil too expensive to compete economically. Last year Goldman Sachs said that tar sands projects require long-term oil prices greater than $80 per barrel just to break even (Goldman Sachs, Canadian Oil Sands Fieldtrip, 2009). At that price point Deutsch Bank forecasts a permanent shift in consumer demand toward more energy efficient products, concluding that “the value of high [capital expenditure] intensity, long lead time, currently un-developed oil, such as Canadian heavy oil sands… could be far lower than the market currently expects” (Deutsch Bank Global Market Research, The Peak Oil Market: Price Development at the End of the Oil Age, 2009).

Despite the high-costs, energy companies are considering investments of hundreds of billions of dollars in tar sands development over the next 15 years – capital that could be deployed for clean, low-carbon energy projects. Given the costs and liabilities of tar sands oil, we question whether it is in the national economic interest to diverge off the path toward clean energy by committing massive resources to a project that will prolong America’s oil dependence and greatly increase our carbon emissions.

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