86th Annual Academy Awards - Show

We’ve increasingly seen celebrities voice their views on energy-related issues and recent Academy Award winner Jared Leto just joined the crowd when he signed an open letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to recommend Keystone XL pipeline permit disapproval to President Obama.

The dramatic letter compares Kerry’s Keystone decision to his 1971 anti-Vietnam war testimony. The letter – signed by 12 others – argues constructing the pipeline would constitute an “irreversible step backward” in the battle to arrest climate change.

The letter states Canada’s oil sands “MUST remain substantially” unburned in order to prevent catastrophic levels of global warming. “Mr. Secretary, we are at war for our future – war against the tyranny of fossil fuels, and war for the prosperous, sustainable, clean energy future we know we can build.”

The letter is long on hyperbole and short on solutions. The greenhouse gas emissions generated from developing Canada’s oil sands – 6.8% of total 2010 Canadian GHG emissions – is one piece of a very large global climate puzzle. Tailpipe and power plant emissions are far greater sources of GHG’s.

Impassioned though it may be, the letter lacks focus and mixes issues. The last sentence begs for freedom from “global oil dependence,” though it’s difficult to see how denying a permit to construct the roughly 800,000 b/d Keystone XL pipeline does much to advance that goal in a world that consumes about 90 million barrels of oil per day.

If the signatories are against fossil fuel consumption across the board, they have much bigger fish to fry than the Keystone XL pipeline. Perhaps they should campaign against coal consumption in developing countries, or better yet, start a movement among celebrities and wealthy activists to shun air travel because jet fuel consumption is a major source of air pollution and GHG emissions.

Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research, said the following with regard to this important energy market development:

“Proving once again that Academy Awards are for acting talent, not intelligence.”