On Thursday, an industry research firm announced a new study predicting that construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would have “no material impact” greenhouse gas emissions. But while proponents and media outlets quickly reported on this “independent study,” the for-profit energy research firm behind the report is anything but independent.
The findings contradict a July study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which found that over its 50-year life, the pipeline would add 1.2 billion metric tons more carbon pollution than if it carried conventional crude — more than every car in the United States releases into the air annually.
The Environmental Protection Agency, in criticizing an earlier State Department analysis, warned that much more information is needed in order to accurately predict what impact the pipeline may have on the environment.
IHS is an information company that provides research for a variety of companies, at a fee. Its Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) division calls itself “a leading advisor to international energy companies, governments, financial institutions, and technology providers.”
To complete the Keystone XL study, IHS CERA relied on a “base of knowledge” from several oil sands dialogue studies, a spokesman told ThinkProgress. Among the stakeholders participating in the company’s 2012 focus group on greenhouse emissions from oil sands, he noted, were several oil companies and trade associations — many with a direct stake in the pipeline.