Obama administration rejects controversial Keystone XL pipeline

Written by: Shauna Bannan

Keystone XL pipeline protesters

Protesters sitting outside the White House, objecting the Keystone XL pipeline.


The Obama administration denied a permit to expand the Keystone oil sands pipeline Wednesday, saying the deadline set by congressional Republicans did not allow enough time to sufficiently review TransCanada‘s proposal.

In his statement, Obama blamed Republicans for trying to force an early decision on the expansion of the Keystone pipeline, which would deliver crude oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas, requiring the administration to evaluate the situation by a Feb. 21 deadline.

“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,” Obama said in his statement. “As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.”

Russ Girling, president and chief executive officer of TransCanada, the energy infrastructure company behind the project, immediately responded to Obama’s statement.

“While we are disappointed, TransCanada remains fully committed to the construction of Keystone XL,” said Russ Girling. “Plans are already underway on a number of fronts to largely maintain the construction schedule of the project. We will re-apply for a Presidential Permit and expect a new application would be processed in an expedited manner to allow for an in-service date of late 2014.”

For three years, the Keystone XL pipeline has been at the center of debate. TransCanada, oil industry supporters, and congressional Republicans argued that the project would create thousands of jobs and lessen the nation’s dependency on oil, while environmentalists feared that the transportation of crude oil would create a large carbon footprint, threaten the Great Plains, and make U.S. waterways more prone to oil spills.

James T. Callahan, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers, said Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL was “a blow to America’s construction workers.”

“Blocking the Keystone pipeline would be an enormous mistake by the Obama administration,” said H. Sterling Burnett, lead analyst of the National Center for Policy Analysis. “We need the oil and we need the jobs it would bring. This is as ‘shovel ready’ as anything Obama has proposed, yet because his radical environmental constituency objects, he’s apparently halting the pipeline. He simply needs their support too much in an election year.”

The president clarified that, despite the denial of the Keystone XL oil sands project, the administration will continue to find alternative ways to increase energy security, in partnership with the oil and gas industry.

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