State Dept corrects Keystone XL report to account for more railroad deaths, times four

I don’t know how much more evidence we could possibly need to confirm that terrestrial pipelines are more efficient, more safe, and more environmentally friendly than oil-and-gas transport by rail — but the Obama administration just provided some. In an update to the report on Keystone XL released in January that basically concluded the pipeline’s construction would have a neutral impact on carbon emissions, the State Department corrected some errors by quadrupling its estimation of the accidental human deaths that may occur if oil-by-rail shipment continues to proceed apace, via Reuters:

The State Department on Friday corrected several errors it made in a key study evaluating the impact of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, including a understatement of how many people could be killed on railroad tracks if the project were rejected and oil traffic by rail increased. …

The January report determined that blocking the controversial pipeline could increase oil train traffic and lead to an additional 49 injuries and six deaths per year, mostly by using historical injury and fatality statistics for railways. …

But the report mistakenly used a forecast for three months of expected accidents rather than full-year figures, officials said. The correct estimate of deaths should be roughly four times as large – between 18 and 30 fatalities per year. …

Revising that footnote has no impact on the State Department’s estimation of expected greenhouse gas emissions tied to the pipeline, a spokesperson said.

For the umpteenth time: Canada is going to develop their oil sands with or without the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline — hence the State Department’s conclusion on the project’s emissions neutrality. There are plenty of other eager markets available besides ours to which Canada can sell their wares, and in the meantime, all the adamantly opposed eco-radicals have really achieved in thwarting the pipeline is an explosion in railroad shipments from Alberta, Canada to our refineries in the Gulf. Really well done, guys.

With that in mind, Josh Kraushaar at National Journal posed a rather interesting question today concerning energy issues in particular and the administration’s agenda in general going forward: Does Obama even care anymore?

The president reportedly has told his close allies that losing the Senate would be “unbearable,” but his administration is doing everything possible to make things difficult for his party’s most vulnerable senators. On energy issues alone, the administration’s decisions to impose new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on coal-fired plants and indefinitely delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline could help burnish his long-term environmental legacy, but at the expense of losing complete control of Congress.

Even as the White House and environmental allies are insisting the regulatory push is a political winner, Obama is getting pushback from his own party. In Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes took a page out of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s playbook, deeming the administration’s EPA regulations part of its “war on coal.” Other battleground-state Democrats have been more circumspect in their reaction, but few have embraced the new regulations with open arms. And every red-state Senate Democrat up in 2014, whose fates determine whether they hold the majority, criticized the administration for its latest delay in approving construction of Keystone XL. Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana has even tailored her campaign messaging around opposition to Obama on energy issues.