April 7, 2014 President Barack Obama The White House

An Open Letter on the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline
from Scientists and Economists
April 7, 2014
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Secretary John Kerry
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear President Obama and Secretary Kerry,
As scientists and economists, we are concerned about climate change and its impacts. We urge you to reject the
Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline as a project that will contribute to climate change at a time when we should be
doing all we can to put clean energy alternatives in place.
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.
President Obama, you said in your speech in Georgetown last year that “allowing the Keystone pipeline to be
built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served
only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”
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. As the
main pathway for tar sands to reach overseas markets, the Keystone XL pipeline would cause a sizeable
expansion of tar sands production and also an increase in the related greenhouse gas pollution. The State
Department review confirmed this analysis under the scenario that best meets the reality of the opposition to
alternative pipeline proposals and the higher costs of other ways of transporting diluted bitumen such as rail. The
review found:
“The total lifecycle emissions associated with production, refining, and combustion of 830,000 bpd of oil
sands crude oil is approximately 147 to 168 MMTCO2e per year. The annual lifecycle GHG emissions
from 830,000 bpd of the four reference crudes examined in this section are estimated to be 124 to 159
MMTCO2e. The range of incremental GHG emissions for crude oil that would be transported by the
proposed Project is estimated to be 1.3 to 27.4 MMTCO2e annually.”
To put these numbers into perspective, the potential incremental annual emissions of 27.4 MMTCO2e is more
than the emissions that seven coal-fired power plants emit in one year. And over the 50-year expected lifespan of
the pipeline, the total emissions from Keystone XL could amount to as much as 8.4 billion metric tons CO2e.
These are emissions that can and should be avoided with a transition to clean energy.
The contribution of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to climate change is real and important, especially given
the commitment of the United States and other world leaders to stay within two degrees Celsius of global
warming. And yet, the State Department environmental review chose an inconsistent model for its “most likely”
scenarios, using business-as-usual energy scenarios that would lead to a catastrophic six degrees Celsius rise in
global warming. Rejecting Keystone XL is necessary for the United States to be consistent with its climate
commitments. Six degrees Celsius of global warming has no place in a sound climate plan.
Secretary Kerry, in your speech in Jakarta, you said, “The science of climate change is leaping out at us like a
scene from a 3D movie – warning us – compelling us to act.” Rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would
be a decision based on sound science.
The world is looking to the United States to lead through strong climate action at home. This includes rejecting
projects that will make climate change worse such as the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
John Abraham, Ph.D.
University of St. Thomas
Anthony Bernhardt, Ph.D.
Physicist and Program Leader (retired)
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Philip W. Anderson, Ph.D.
Nobel Prize (Physics 1977)
Emeritus Professor
Princeton University
Damien C. Brady, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marine Science
Darling Marine Center
University of Maine
Tim Arnold, Ph.D.
Assistant Project Scientist
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
Julie A. Brill, Ph.D.
Director, Collaborative Program in Developmental Biology,
and Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics
University of Toronto
Senior Scientist, Cell Biology Program
The Hospital for Sick Children
Kenneth J. Arrow, Ph.D.
Nobel Prize (Economics 1972)
Professor emeritus of Economics and of
Management Science and Engineering
Stanford University
Gary Brouhard, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
McGill University
Roger Bales, Ph.D.
Professor of Engineering
University of California, Merced
Ken Caldeira, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
Carnegie Institution for Science
Paul H. Beckwith, M.S.
Part-time professor: climatology/meteorology
Department of Geography
University of Ottawa
Grant Cameron, Ph.D.
Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP)
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
Shelagh D. Campbell, Ph.D.
Professor, Biological Sciences
University of Alberta
Steve Easterbrook, Ph.D.
Professor of Computer Science
University of Toronto
Kai M. A. Chan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor & Tier 2 Canada Research Chair
(Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services)
Graduate Advisor, RMES Institute for Resources,
Environment & Sustainability
University of British Columbia
Anne Ehrlich, Ph.D.
Biology Department
Stanford University
Paul R. Ehrlich, Ph.D.
Bing Professor of Population Studies and
President, Center for Conservation Biology
Stanford University
Eugene Cordero, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Meteorology and Climate Science
San Jose State University
Henry Erlich, Ph.D.
Center for Genetics
Children’s Hospital Research Institute
Rosemary Cornell, Ph.D.
Professor, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Simon Fraser University
Alejandro Frid, Ph.D.
Science Coordinator
Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance
Gretchen C. Daily, Ph.D.
Bing Professor of Environmental Science
Stanford University
Konrad Gajewski, Ph.D.
Laboratory for Paleoclimatology and Climatology
Department of Geography
University of Ottawa
Timothy Daniel, Ph.D.
U.S. Federal Trade Commission
Miriam Diamond, Ph.D.
Department of Earth Sciences
Cross-appointed to:
Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Sciences
Dalla Lana School of Public Health
School of the Environment
Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences
University of Toronto
Eric Galbraith, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Earth and Planetary Science
McGill University
Lawrence M. Dill, Ph.D., FRSC
Professor Emeritus
Simon Fraser University
Alexander J. Glass, Ph.D.
Emeritus Associate Director
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Simon Donner, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Geography
University of British Columbia
John R. Glover, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Biochemistry
University of Toronto
Roland Droitsch, Ph.D.
KM21 Associates
Ursula Goodenough, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Biology
Washington University in St. Louis
Nicholas Dulvy, Ph.D.
Professor, Canada Research Chair in Marine Biodiversity
and Conservation Biological Sciences
Simon Fraser University
Stephanie Green, Ph.D.
David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow
Oregon State University
Geoffrey Gearheart, Ph.D.
Scientist, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Biomedicine
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
Steven Hackett, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
Associated Faculty, Energy Technology & Policy
Humboldt State University
Mark Jaccard, Ph.D., FRSC
School of Resource and Environmental Management
Simon Fraser University
Joshua B. Halpern, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Chemistry
Howard University
Louise E. Jackson, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
University of California Davis
Alexandra Hangsterfer, M.S.
Geological Collections Manager
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
Pete Jumars, Ph.D.
Professor of Marine Sciences
Darling Marine Center
University of Maine
James Hansen, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor
Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions
Columbia University Earth Institute
David Keith, Ph.D.
Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS); and,
Professor of Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
John Harte, Ph.D.
Professor of Ecosystem Sciences
Energy and Resources Group
University of California, Berkeley
Jeremy T. Kerr, Ph.D.
University Research Chair in
Macroecology and Conservation
Professor of Biology
University of Ottawa
H. Criss Hartzell, Ph.D.
Emory University School of Medicine
Bryan Killett, Ph.D.
Jet Propulsion Lab
Danny Harvey, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Geography
University of Toronto
Keith W. Kisselle, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology & Environmental Science
Academic Chair of Center for Environmental Studies
Austin College
Rodrick A. Hay, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor of Geography
College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences
California State University Dominguez Hills
Janet E. Kübler, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
California State University at Northridge
Karen Holl, Ph.D.
Professor of Environmental Studies
University of California, Santa Cruz
Sherman Lewis, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
California State University Hayward
Robert Howarth, Ph.D.
The David R. Atkinson Professor of
Ecology & Environmental Biology
Cornell University
Michael E. Loik, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Environmental Studies
University of California, Santa Cruz
Jonathan Isham, Jr., Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
Middlebury College
Michael C. MacCracken, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs
Climate Institute
Andrew Iwaniuk, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
University of Lethbridge
Scott A. Mandia, M.S.
Professor/Asst. Chair, Department of Physical Sciences
Suffolk County Community College
Dana Nuccitelli, M.S.
Environmental Scientist
Tetra Tech, Inc.
Michael Mann, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor and Director of Earth System
Science Center
Penn State University
Michael Oppenheimer, Ph.D.
Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs
Princeton University
Adam Martiny, Ph.D.
Associate Professor in Marine Science
Department of Earth System Science
University of California, Irvine
Wendy J. Palen, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Earth to Ocean Research Group
Simon Fraser University
Damon Matthews, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and
Concordia University Research Chair
Geography, Planning and Environment
Concordia University
Edward A. Parson, Ph.D.
Dan and Rae Emmett Professor of Environmental Law
Faculty Co-Director
Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment
UCLA School of Law
James J. McCarthy, Ph.D.
Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography
Harvard University
Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, Ph.D.
Louis Block Professor in the Geophysical Sciences
The University of Chicago
Susan K. McConnell, Ph.D.
Susan B. Ford Professor
Dunlevie Family University Fellow
Department of Biology
Stanford University
Richard Plevin, Ph.D.
Research Scientist
NextSTEPS (Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways)
Institute of Transportation Studies
University of California, Davis
Dominick Mendola, Ph.D.
Senior Development Engineer
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
John Pollack, M.S.
Meteorologist; and,
National Weather Service forecaster (retired)
Faisal Moola, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Forestry
University of Toronto; and,
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies
York University
Jessica Dawn Pratt, Ph.D.
Education & Outreach Coordinator
Center for Environmental Biology
University of California, Irvine
William Moomaw, Ph.D.
Professor, The Fletcher School
Tufts University
Lynne M. Quarmby, Ph.D.
Professor & Chair
Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
Simon Fraser University
Jens Mühle, Dr. rer. nat.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
Rebecca Rolph, M.S.
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Hamburg, Germany; and,
Klimacampus, University of Hamburg
Richard B. Norgaard, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Energy and Resources
University of California, Berkeley
Thomas Roush, MD
Columbia University School of Public Health (retired)
Gretchen North, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
Occidental College
Maureen Ryan, Ph.D.
Research Associate, Simon Fraser University; and,
Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Washington
John M. R. Stone, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor
Carleton University
Anne K. Salomon, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of Resource and Environmental Management
Simon Fraser University
David Suzuki, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor
Sustainable Development Research Institute
University of British Columbia
Casey Schmidt, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor
Desert Research Institute
Division of Hydrologic Sciences
Jennifer Taylor, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
University of California, San Diego
Michael S. Tift, M.S.
Doctoral Student
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
Peter C. Schulze, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology & Environmental Science
Director, Center for Environmental Studies
Austin College
Cali Turner Tomaszewicz, M.S.
Doctoral Student, Biological Sciences
Department of Ecology, Behavior & Evolution
University of California, San Diego
Jason Scorse, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Monterrey Institute of International Studies
Middlebury College
Till Wagner, Ph.D.
Scientist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
Jamie Scott, MD, Ph.D.
Professor and Canada Research Chair
Department of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
Faculty of Science and Faculty of Health Sciences
Simon Fraser University
Barrie Webster, Ph.D.
Professor (retired)
University of Manitoba
Michael A. Silverman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Simon Fraser University
Richard Weinstein, Ph.D.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Leonard S. Sklar, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Earth & Climate Sciences Department
San Francisco State University
Anthony LeRoy Westerling, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of
Environmental Engineering and Geography
University of California, Merced
Jerome A. Smith, Ph.D.
Research Oceanographer
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
Mark L. Winston, Ph.D., FRSC
Academic Director and Fellow, Center for Dialogue
Simon Fraser University
Richard C. J. Somerville, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
George M. Woodwell, Ph.D.
Member, National Academy of Sciences, and
Founder and Director Emeritus
The Woods Hole Research Center
Brandon M. Stephens, M.S.
Graduate Student Researcher
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
Kirsten Zickfeld, Ph.D.
Professor of Climatology
Simon Fraser University