The Obama Administration is expected to announce a rejection of a Canadian oil firm’s Keystone XL pipeline application. The Keystone XL pipeline has made headlines over the past year as environmentalists seek to influence Washington’s decision to allow the pipeline to be extended 2,000 miles from Alberta’s oil sands to the Gulf Coast. Republicans in the Senate have been pushing for a swift decision on the pipeline from the administration, in spite of hard evidence that it would seriously damage American ecosystems in its construction in operation. This latest move is sure to be seen as a triumph for those in opposition of the destructive plan.
The Obama administration’s decision today comes with a statement of concern over the pipeline’s chosen path through Nebraska’s delicate Sandhills. The adminstration will allow TransCanada — the developer of the pipeline — to find a different route around the delicate ecosystem and then reapply, but that process could take at least until the after the November Presidential election. The President’s statement on the pipeline was clear.
“This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people,” President Obama said in his prepared statement, adding, “I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my Administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil.”
Back in November, in response to environmental opposition lead by the group 360.org, the President decided he was going to delay the approval of the pipeline to make way for extensive research into the environmental impact of the project. Most officials said that process would take at least until the start of 2013. In last month’s payroll tax extension bill, Republican representatives inserted language that declared the President had to make a decision about the pipeline by February 21st. The administration seems to be treading cautiously on this subject as a great many environmental activist groups are key voting sectors for Obama’s presidential reelection campaign.
“Today’s decision will be a fairly easy one for the White House to make,” noted Stephen Brown, vice president for federal government affairs for the oil refiner Tesoro Cos. ”No one who was planning on voting against the President would have been won over simply because of the approval of Keystone.”
“The Republican provision to force a decision in sixty days for a route that hasn’t been chosen yet is asking the President to write a blank check to a big foreign oil company regardless of the harm to Americans,” Daniel J. Weiss, director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress said in an e-mail to the Washington Post. “Denial of the Keystone XL permit would mean that President Obama will protect Americans by ensuring that the pipeline construction and operation will not pollute our air and water. This approach is like having medical tests before deciding on surgery.”
White House Spokesperson Jay Carney said on Tuesday that it is wrong to suggest, “the president should sign into law something when there isn’t even an alternate route identified in Nebraska and when … there was an attempt to short-circuit the review process in a way that does not allow the kind of careful consideration of all the competing criteria here that needs to be done.”
Most supporters of the pipeline believe it will be a boon for the economy, create thousands of jobs, and allow us to release some tension on the unstable foreign oil market. Opponents say that TransCanada’s job claims are exaggerated and that energy efficiency improvements are the best way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, not importing more foreign oil.