Obama Kicks Pipeline down the Road
November 10, 2011
It’s not dead yet. This isn’t the wooden stake thru the heart, or the silver bullet head shot – but the Keystone pipeline has been dealt a blow as President Obama sent the proposal back to the State Department for a thorough review.
Bill McKibben responds:
It’s important to understand how unlikely this victory is. Six months ago, almost no one outside the pipeline route even knew about Keystone XL. One month ago, a secret poll of “energy insiders” by the National Journal found that “virtually all” expected easy approval of the pipeline by year’s end. As late as last week the CBC reported that Transcanada was moving huge quantities of pipe across the border and seizing land by eminent domain, certain that its permit would be granted. A done deal has come spectacularly undone.
The U.S. State Department said it is delaying a decision onTransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline to study an alternative route for the $7 billion project away from environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska.
Evaluating a revised route will postpone a final ruling on the pipeline, which has drawn support from business groups and protests from environmentalists, until after the 2012 election.
The Obama administration’s decision responds to concerns raised by Nebraska citizens, state officials and some members of Congress that TransCanada’s proposed route across the state’s Sandhills area risks the Ogallala aquifer, the drinking-water source for 1.5 million people.
“Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment, and because a number of concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood,” President Barack Obamasaid in a written statement.
The 1,661-mile (2,673-kilometer) pipeline would deliver 700,000 barrels a day of crude from Alberta’s oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico by crossing Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma andTexas.
Russ Girling, chief executive officer of Calgary-based TransCanada, who had said rerouting delays might kill the project, said today the company remains “confident Keystone XL will ultimately be approved.”