Greens take aim at U.S. energy exports as Keystone attack broadens

Mon Mar 3, 2014 1:35pm EST
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By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON, March 3 (Reuters) - As the years-long fight over the Keystone XL pipeline grinds toward resolution, green groups are broadening their focus to include the possibility that the Obama administration will loosen curbs on how much oil and gas the United States exports.

One such group, Oil Change International, plans to declare on Monday that lifting the decades-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports would undercut promises made by President Barack Obama last summer to protect the climate.

The focus on exports marks a bridge to the future from the Keystone XL fight, which helped re-energize environmental activists after legislation to take action on climate change died in the U.S. Senate in 2010.

"Keystone XL is the issue that has brought more activists into the street than any environmental question in a generation," Bill McKibben, founder of green group, wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times in February.

Transcanada Corp's proposed Keystone XL pipeline would transport more than 800,000 barrels per day of crude from Canada's oil sands region to the U.S. Gulf Coast. A final decision on the pipeline could be made within months.

Long focused on the level of pollution created by digging up tar sands in Alberta and then moving the gritty bitumen across several U.S. states, opponents to Keystone are recasting the debate into one on exports.

A television ad rolled out by San Francisco-based NextGen Climate Action before Obama's State of the Union address in January raised fears that oil from Canada would snake through the United States, only to be exported to countries like China.

NextGen, a political action committee founded by billionaire hedge fund investor and climate activist Tom Steyer, aimed to counteract claims by TransCanada that the oil transported via Keystone would remain in the North America.   Continued...