President Obama Rejects The Keystone XL Pipeline
After more than six years, President Obama put an end to the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline. In a speech this morning he rejected the myth that the pipeline would be an economic boon, and highlighted the urgent need to act on climate. “If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now,” he said. President Obama’s rejection of the pipeline marks the first time in history that a world leader has blocked a major infrastructure project because of its impact on climate.
This move not only solidifies President Obama’s stature as a climate leader, but also positions the United States as a global leader in the fight against climate change ahead of next month’s United Nations climate talks in Paris. The rejection comes less than a week after TransCanada, the company in charge of the pipeline, sent a letter to the State Department asking to suspend the review process for the pipeline until after the next presidential election. The State Department declined TransCanada’s request, which was seen as an attempt to delay the decision betting on a friendlier GOP face to take the White House
For the last six years the pipeline has served as a symbol of the political divide on climate and energy issues, often undercutting any real discussion of environmental policies. Despite promises from TransCanada and conservative supporters of the pipeline that the project would lower oil prices and create jobs, the project would not have lowered American gas prices and would have created only 35 permanent jobs. Furthermore, the pipeline would have added the equivalent of the carbon pollution of 6 million cars, further exacerbating climate change and endangering public health. And on top of its environmental impact, as President Obama said in his announcement this morning, shipping dirtier crude oil into the United States “would not improve our energy security.”
Now that President Obama has acted on the issue, there is hope that lawmakers can finally turn their focus to creating realistic solutions to the threat posed by global climate change. But it is too soon to tell whether the final nail has been put in the coffin. There is a chance that conservatives in Congress could attach a rider to the 2016 spending bill requiring the passage of the pipeline and risking a government shutdown.
BOTTOM LINE: The Keystone XL pipeline would have made climate change worse, while adding no meaningful long-term contribution to our economy. The end of the Keystone fight is more than just a win for our environment, it is also a win for our health, communities across the country impacted by climate change, and American leadership in global fight against climate change. Lawmakers should now turn their attention away from the partisan fight and towards creating meaningful strategies to address the threat of human-caused climate change.
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