Esquire’s Politics Blog is focusing on energy this week, taking a close look at the environmental consequences of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline.
The first article in the series centers on Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry, who concedes processing the pipeline’s crude oil would lead to massive carbon emissions, but supports the project anyway.
He knows that the stuff the Keystone XL is bringing down into the States — is bringing up out of the earth — isn’t harmless. He knows this is not all politics.
“It is a heavy crude,” Terry admits. “To extract it, to refine it, you’ll emit more carbon than sweet crude. That’s a fact.” Campaigning for election, he continued, “I’m gonna follow where the science goes. If the environmental study says it’s safe, that’s where I’m going to be.”
Terry fought to get onto the House energy committee because he was concerned about energy security, the idea that we’re in hock to the Middle East for the stuff that keeps our very engines running. But he’s also supported investments in wind and solar. “I’m the renewable Republican in our committee,” he jokes.
…But Terry turned out to be one of the pipeline’s biggest supporters. The way he sees it, the EPA’s environmental assessment approved the project and a supplemental assessment seconded the endorsement. The EPA didn’t assess global warming gases, but he argues that Keystone will actually create less carbon — because Canada is going to sell the oil one way or the other. “It’s not like if we don’t allow this pipeline that’s never going to be extracted and never gonna be used — that’s a fallacy. In fact, China would love to own all of the oil sands in Alberta.”