CNBC host Larry Kudlow believes the Keystone XL pipeline will be good for wildlife because animals will “snuggle” underneath it for warmth, even though the Interior Department found Keystone XL would have “permanent impacts” on wildlife, including threats to several endangered species.
As fossil fuel advocates become increasingly worried that President Barack Obama won't approve Keystone XL, they are resorting to fallacious arguments to purport benefits of the pipeline. On Monday night's The Kudlow Report, Larry Kudlow declared that wildlife will benefit from Keystone XL, dismissing a letter from the Interior Department warning of the dangers it would pose to wildlife. Despite the threats to several endangered species, Kudlow believes that animals would “like to snuggle under the pipeline” for “warmth.” Rayola Dougher, senior economic advisor for the American Petroleum Institute, agreed, claiming “animals like the Alaskan crude oil pipeline quite a bit.”
Strangely, “animals cuddling for warmth” is absent from the Interior Department's review of the pipeline's wildlife impacts. The Department outlined many ways the pipeline would "wreak havoc" on plants and animals around the prospective route, including “wildlife collisions and electrocutions with power lines.” The agency reported that Keystone XL would cause habitat loss and species displacements, resulting in "permanent impacts" on wildlife.
According to Noah Greenwald, the Center for Biological Diversity's Endangered Species Director, “many endangered species will be at risk from the Keystone XL” pipeline. In a phone call with Media Matters, Greenwald mentioned something missing from the State Department's final analysis, which the Interior criticized*: the fact that the pipeline will likely spill at one point. The State Department's Draft Environmental Impact Statement itself includes projections of 1.9 spills -- about 34,000 gallons -- per year. Greenwald said the pipeline “would be a disaster for wildlife if it were built.”
Dougher's claim -- that animals “like” the Alaskan pipeline -- refers to the suggestion that pipelines benefited caribou populations by serving as meeting grounds due to their warmth. This claim was advanced by many Republican politicians. However, a report from the United States Geological Survey determined otherwise. Ray Cameron, who spent decades studying caribou for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, found that caribou herds were “effectively crowded out” of certain areas by development and that their populations shifted into areas with “fewer roads and pipelines.” Additionally, Greenwald said that recent development of tar sands is a “big part of why caribou are now listed as threatened” by the Canadian government.* This is a far cry from snuggling for warmth.
*Updated for clarity.