Politics

President Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
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President Barack Obama outright rejected the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would have transported 830,000 barrels crude oil everyday between Hardisty, Alberta, Canada and Steele City, Nebraska, to Gulf Coast refineries, the Washington Post reported.

Obama cited environmental concerns and said that the pipeline’s benefits were exaggerated. "While our politics have been consumed with whether this pipeline would increase jobs and lower gas prices, we have increased jobs and lowered gas prices," Obama said, according to NBC News. 

 “The point is the old rules said we couldn’t promote economic growth and protect our environment at the same time,” he said, “but this is America and we have come up with new ways and new technologies to break down the old rules.”

The $8 billion project was opposed by environmental groups, landowners who would’ve been impacted by the project and Democrats. 

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“President Obama is the first world leader to reject a project because of its effect on the climate,” Bill McKibben, whose group 350.org brought the issue to national attention, told The Washington Post in a statement. "That gives him new stature as an environmental leader, and it eloquently confirms the five years and millions of hours of work that people of every kind put into this fight.”

Others were disappointed by the decision. “Today, misplaced symbolism was chosen over merit and science — rhetoric won out over reason,” said TransCanada president and chief executive Russ Girling in a statement. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was sworn in earlier this week, also expressed discontentment with Obama’s decision. “We are disappointed by the decision but respect the right of the United States to make the decision,” he said in a statement. “The Canada-U.S. relationship is much bigger than any one project and I look forward to a fresh start with President Obama to strengthen our remarkable ties in a spirit of friendship and co-operation.”

Despite concerns, Canada’s oil exports won’t be impacted by the decision - the Keystone XL pipeline would’ve lengthened the existing Keystone pipeline. 

Bruce Huber, an associate professor of law at the University of Notre Dame who specializes in environmental, natural resources and energy, noted that Obama’s decision doesn’t have  as much impact as some would like to tout. 

"Although presidential hopefuls will no doubt seize on this decision, the fact remains that the Keystone pipeline would have represented a relatively insignificant addition to U.S. energy infrastructure," he said.

"The pipeline had acquired an outsized symbolic importance to both supporters and detractors, even as other pipeline activity proceeded.”

Sources: The Washington Post, NBC News, Office of the Prime Minister of Canada Image via U.S. Geological Survey/Flickr