Obama Rejects Tar Sands Pipeline

This afternoon, the Obama administration announced its rejection of Canada’s proposed Keystone tar sands pipeline … but TransCanada will be allowed to submit a new application for an alternate route (which they undoubtedly will).

The pipeline would deliver 700,000 barrels a day of the dirtiest crude oil down the spine of the US to the Gulf, to be exported to other countries.

Obama didn’t make the decision based on the merits of the plan, but because the GOP forced him to make a decision in 2 months, he had no choice but to reject it. The GOP attached a 2- month decision on the pipeline to the unrelated payroll tax bill.

"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 a statement.

House and Senate Republicans are far from giving up. Besides making it a campaign issue, they’re considering legislation to ram through the project, again attached to the payroll tax cut bill, which comes up again in early February.

The GOP has been pushing hard for the pipeline’s approval, saying it will create 20,000 jobs, while reducing US reliance on
foreign oil.

Those job numbers have been shown to be greatly exaggerated – the State Department estimates about 5000-6000 temporary jobs would result. 

Constructing high speed rail would create millions of jobs, but the GOP rejects that.

And the pipeline would not bring crude to the US. It would travel through the US and then be exported from the Gulf, benefiting only the oil industry.

The Administration had postponed the decision upon further environmental review after the State Department’s initial review was shown to be extremely biased.

A national network of over 500 local government officials – the Climate Communities coalition – believes the pipeline would undermine their efforts to advance clean transportation initiatives at the local, state and national levels.  

Reps Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said of Obama’s decision:  

"We’re pleased the President is not being intimidated by attempts to short-circuit the review process for the Keystone XL pipeline," says Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). "This is not just any pipeline. It would carry tar sands oil, which is more polluting than conventional crude oil, from Canada’s boreal forest, through sensitive ecosystems and water supplies in the Midwest, to the
Gulf Coast for refinement and likely export. Despite exaggerated jobs claims by pipeline supporters, there is no national security or economic reason to expedite approval of this project, which could be environmentally damaging and unsafe."

Americans submitted over 250,000 public comments against the pipeline and 1,253 people were arrested as part of a pivotal protest at the White House.

Here’s what retired Airforce Lt. Gen. Norman Seip says. He now owns a defense and energy consulting firm, NS Solutions, and Operation Free, a non-profit, non-partisan organization made of up over 800 veterans from the conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan who advocate for energy independence and security:

"Proponents claim the pipeline will somehow improve national security in the US. Don’t believe it. Here’s why.

Keystone XL is primarily an export pipeline. It will not bring any more new oil to our country. It will simply allow the oil industry to bypass the American energy market as it sends Canadian crude to the Gulf of Mexico, where it can be sold at higher prices to foreign buyers on the global oil market.

And just because this oil originates in a friendly foreign country doesn’t mean the US will be any less dependent on oil from less-friendly countries.

Bottom line: With or without Keystone XL, we will remain dependent on oil from the Middle East. We will still be held hostage to oil-producing countries with unfriendly governments, like Iran. We will still be subject to the same high gas and oil prices set by a global marketplace, not by Canada or any other single country.

And in the end, we will still be forced to send our soldiers, sailors, airmen and women and marines – and billions of our tax dollars – to faraway shores in order to protect our oil interests. Our national security will still be subject to the whims of oil producing regions countries that, in a nutshell, simply despise our way of life.

There’s another reason why Keystone XL could hurt, not help, our national security.

The longer we stay focused on finding ways to keep ourselves shackled to oil and other fossil fuels, the longer we postpone our opportunity to develop new, renewable sources of energy that actually will improve our energy and national security.

The only way we can reduce our vulnerability to rising oil prices, volatile supplies and foreign suppliers is to reduce our dependency on oil. And the only way we can do that is to use more efficient vehicles that let us to drive further with less oil, and develop our own sources of renewable energy right here in the United States.

The U.S. military knows this very well. That’s why every branch of the military is aggressively developing sources of alternative fuels to reduce supply vulnerabilities, reduce costs, and most of all, to help keep our troops out of harm’s way in the future.

My own Air Force, for example, has set a goal of acquiring half of its domestic aviation fuel from alternative sources by 2016. We can now fly A-10C attack jets and supersonic F-22 Raptors using fuel blends based on an inedible weed-like plant called camelina.

The Navy is powering aircraft and ships with oil derived from algae and used cooking oil. The Army and the Marines are developing hybrid vehicles and powering barracks and forward operating bases with solar and wind.

The military’s push into renewable fuels, in turn, is driving innovation in the private sector. It has led to the establishment of made-in-America renewable energy companies from California to Montana to Louisiana and all across our land, creating real and lasting American jobs along the way.

The Keystone XL pipeline won’t do any of that.

It will simply be one more way to keep us addicted to oil, keep us vulnerable to international crises and keep our national security at risk."

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Comments on “Obama Rejects Tar Sands Pipeline”

  1. Clarity

    Zero pollution risk. It’s buried along with tens of thousands of miles of other pipelines throughout the US. Obstructionist create fear based upon emotions. No facts to support any negative impact. Many facts to support positive impacts of additional N American production, including lower dependence upon OPEC oil, more jobs, lower fuel prices etc. Don’t fear the unknown. Appreciate the known.

  2. Rona Fried

    It’s one thing to support fossil fuels, but please get your facts straight, Clarity. There’s a huge pollution risk of the pipeline rupturing (as tar sands pipelines have in Canada) and polluting the water in the largest aquifer that provides drinking and irrigation water to much of the Midwest. Even Nebraska, a conservative state, was against the pipeline for that reason. The jobs the pipeline would provide are miniscule.


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