Jeffrey Sachs writes that the recent State Department report on the environmental impact of the Keystone XL pipeline didn't even ask the correct questions. There is also a good video interview with Sachs, at the link. An excerpt:
Herein lies the tragic, indeed fatal, flaw of the State Department review. The State Department Environmental Impact Statement doesn't even ask the right question: How do the unconventional Canadian oil sands fit or not fit within the overall carbon budget? Instead, the State Department simply assumes, without any irony or evident self-awareness, that the oil sands will be developed and used one way or another. For the State Department, the main issue therefore seems to be whether the oil will be shipped by pipeline or by rail. The State Department doesn't even raise the possibility that the pipeline should be stopped in order to keep a lid on the total amount of unconventional fossil fuels burned around the world.
The core assumption of the report is that the US Government has no role to play, either alone or in conjunction with Canada and other countries, to stay within an overall global carbon budget.
According to the State Department, in other words, the US Government is just a passive spectator to global climate change.