The denial of the Keystone XL route is official. The President issued this statement today:
Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.
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. 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. Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up, while imports of foreign oil are down. In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security –including the potential development of an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico – even as we set higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and invest in alternatives like biofuels and natural gas. And we will do so in a way that benefits American workers and businesses without risking the health and safety of the American people and the environment.
Groups opposed to tar sands are universally supporting the decision, while Keystone supporters are universally denouncing the denial. From Dan Weiss at the Center for American Progress:
President Barack Obama’s denial of the Keystone XL pipeline permit recognizes that Canadian tar sands oil—bringing pollution but relatively few American jobs while exporting the oil to China and other countries—is not the future of American energy. His insistence on knowing the impact before the pipeline is approved is the safest decision to protect Americans along its route by ensuring the pipeline won’t pollute their air and water before it’s reviewed by those with the expertise to conduct such an assessment without bias—not the foreign oil companies or their lobbyists who stand to profit. It is like getting medical tests and a second opinion before deciding on the appropriate treatment, from a doctor and not a drug company.
Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org responds to the news that the State Department will reject the Keystone XL pipeline later today.
Assuming that what we’re hearing is true, this isn’t just the right call, it’s the brave call. The knock on Barack Obama from many quarters has been that he’s too conciliatory. But here, in the face of a naked political threat from Big Oil to exact ‘huge political consequences,’ he’s stood up strong. This is a victory for Americans who testified in record numbers, and who demanded that science get the hearing usually reserved for big money.
We’re well aware that the fossil fuel lobby won’t give up easily. They have control of Congress. But as the year goes on, we’ll try to break some of that hammerlock, both so that environmental review can go forward, and so that we can stop wasting taxpayer money on subsidies and handouts to the industry. The action starts mid-day Tuesday on Capitol Hill, when 500 referees will blow the whistle on Big Oil’s attempts to corrupt the Congress.
After co-writing a breaking story early this afternoon on the Keystone XL decision, Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin tweeted:
From the Washington Post Story:
Some political observers said that the effort by Congress to pressure the president into making a quick decision might have backfired. Last week, John Engler, former Michigan governor who is now head of the Business Roundtable, said “no chief executive likes to be painted into a corner by anybody, whether another nation or a legislative body. There are a couple of ways to react and one of them is a negative way.” Engler and the Business Roundtable support the pipeline project.
Obama can say that the GOP forced his hand, requiring him to make a decision on the original pipeline route, which too many people, including those in Nebraska, objected to. Obama can also say that the GOP required a decision before he could go through the rigorous process needed to develop a new pipeline route and do the environmental impact analysis of it.
This was Obama’s widely expected fudge. And if you like fudge, it’s very tasty. But is it really good for you?
With the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, The Oil Goes to China, the Permanent Jobs Go to Canada, We Get the Spills, and the World Gets Warmer. Is the decision really that hard?