Bloomberg reports: As a senator, John Kerry fought for sweeping climate change legislation, called human-induced warming among the top challenges facing the U.S., and pushed for an international accord to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
That track record has emboldened critics of TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline who want him to scuttle the remaining $5.3 billion portion of the project if he’s confirmed as secretary of State. Appearing yesterday at a hearing on his nomination before the Senate committee he chairs, Kerry was non- committal on the Canada-U.S. pipeline, though called himself a “passionate advocate” for action on climate change.
“He’s made climate leadership a signature issue in his Senate career,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, an environmental group, in a phone interview yesterday. “At the State Department, Kerry has the ability to ensure the analysis that is done gives the president the full flavor of the global warming impacts from the pipeline.”
A rejection of the Keystone XL project would exacerbate a bottleneck of shipments from Alberta’s oil sands that has made Canadian heavy oil among the cheapest in the world. The shortage of pipeline capacity and rising output has widened the gap between heavy Canadian crude and a U.S. benchmark to $36 as of yesterday.
The decision ultimately rests with President Barack Obama, who in his inaugural address this week pledged to act on climate change. Kerry’s influence may come as the State Department updates an environmental assessment originally criticized by green groups as inadequately weighing how the pipeline, which would carry bitumen from tar sands in Canada, may affect climate change.
“There is a statutory process with regards to the review and that is currently ongoing,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday. “It will not be long before that comes across my desk, and I will make the appropriate judgments about it.”
Investors appear to be betting on Keystone approval, sending TransCanada shares to a record high this week. TransCanada, the country’s second-largest pipeline operator, has climbed 3.9 percent since Kerry was nominated Dec. 21 and has advanced 4.1 percent this year. [Continue reading…]