Later this year, the State Department must decide whether to grant TransCanada a presidential permit to build the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline extension, which would carry heavy crude oil from Canada’s oil sands to America’s Gulf Coast refineries. Climate activists warn that the project would be devastating to the planet, while proponents say it would boost the nation’s energy security and generate short-term construction jobs.
Referring to the pipeline during the hearing, Kerry said that “it would not be long before it crosses my desk. But he did not offer his opinion on the project. He responded more forcefully, however, when Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) argued that stricter environmental regulations would harm the economy but have little impact on global climate.
“In this tight budget environment, with so many competing American priorities, I would ask you to give considerable thought into limiting significantly resources that would not help us as an economy, not help us as a country, and not help us globally in perhaps the efforts you might be pursuing,” Barrasso said.
Kerry shot back: “The solution to climate change is energy policy. You want to do business and do it well in America, we got to get into the energy race.” He cited California and his own state of Massachusetts as places where clean energy and energy efficiency are “growing faster than any other sector... This is a job creator.”
Noting that U.S. communities broke heat and fire records last year and suffered record-high damages from superstorm Sandy,” Kerry said: “If we can’t see the downside of spending that money and risking lives for all the changes that are taking place, to agriculture, to our communities, the ocean and so forth, we’re ignoring what science is telling us. So I will be a passionate advocate on this, but not based on ideology but based on facts, based on science.”
Environmentalists have put Kerry on notice that they expect him to use his new post to curb the nation’s carbon output, in part by rejecting TransCanada’s permit.
Erich Pica, president of the advocacy group Friends of the Earth, wrote in an e-mail Thursday morning that he agreed with Kerry’s opening remarks.