Like most climate change-conscious folks around the planet, we have been celebrating Obama’s historic decision to deny a permit for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The KXL pipeline would have shipped massive amounts of Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast, spelling “game over” for the climate, as climate activist Bill McKibben has frequently stated. We’re already at dangerous levels of CO2, and to avoid the planet overheating too much more, it’s becoming obvious that we need to keep as many fossil fuels in the ground as possible.

But just because KXL is dead doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet.

After all, we’re already seeing some tar sands oil cross North Idaho and Washington on its way to West Coast ports, and a recent report by the Sightline Institute says that this could just be the beginning.

The potential construction of several oil transport terminals and refineries in the Pacific Northwest could move 1 million barrels of oil a day through the region-half of which is unlocked from the Canadian tar sands.

And this will have a big impact on the climate, according to the new study by Sightline Institute. Sightline’s Eric de Place wrote in a recent blog:

They would incentivize large-scale oil extraction in both the Canadian
oil sands region and the Bakken shale oil formation, perhaps upping our carbon pollution by the equivalent of over 28 million cars on the road. Moreover, it appears that in the absence of Keystone and other pipelines, the Canadian tar sands industry’s growth will rely on oil-by-rail terminals in the Northwest.

The biggest of the proposed terminal projects is the Tesoro-Savage terminal in Vancouver, WA, which could offload as much as 360,000 barrels of oil a day. The draft environmental impact statement for the project is to be released on Nov 24, followed by a public comment period and hearings-one of which will be held on Jan. 14 in the Spokane Valley just after the holidays.

The Idaho Conservation League is rallying a big turnout at the hearing, so stay tuned for more information about how you can be involved or contact me for more information!