- Views & Opinions
President Barack Obama on Nov. 6 rejected an application to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The decision after seven years of federal review.
The president declared the proposed project wouldn’t serve U.S. national interests and would have undercut America’s global leadership on climate change.
The 1,179-mile proposed pipeline wouldn’t have lowered U.S. gas prices, Obama said, nor would it have contributed to U.S. jobs long-term or make the U.S. less dependent on foreign energy.
Flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, Obama also said the proposed project had taken on an “overinflated role” in U.S. political discourse and had been used as a “campaign cudgel” by supporters and opponents alike.
Killing the pipeline allows Obama to claim aggressive action on the environment.
Yet it also puts the president in a direct confrontation with Republicans and energy advocates that will almost surely spill over into the 2016 presidential election.
“This pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others,” Obama said at the White House.
Obama also noted that he would travel to Paris in a few weeks to meet with world leaders at an international climate summit. The leaders are expected to finalize a major global climate pact that Obama hopes will be a crowning jewel for his environmental legacy.
After hearing the news, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said, “President Obama is the first world leader to reject a project because of its effect on the climate. 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. We’re well aware that the next president could undo all this, but this is a day of celebration.”
350.org executive director May Boeve added, “This is a big win. President Obama’s decision to reject Keystone XL because of its impact on the climate is nothing short of historic — and sets an important precedent that should send shockwaves through the fossil fuel industry.”
Stephen Kretzmann, executive director, Oil Change International said, “Over two years ago, the President spoke at Georgetown University and laid out a simple but powerful criteria for evaluating policies and projects. If it makes climate change worse, it is not in the national interest. Obama’s Presidential Climate Test is now the new gold standard for evaluating energy policy and we thank him for designing and applying it.
“The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline on climate grounds is truly a lasting and fitting legacy for President Obama that future generations will rightfully see as a turning point in the struggle against dirty energy, corporate greed and for a safe climate.”
In Nebraska, where TransCanada is working to seize by eminent domain property for the pipeline, Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska said, “We stood our ground and today President Obama stood with us, the pipeline fighters. Tonight landowners can finally go to sleep knowing their family is safe and sound. Our unlikely alliance showed America that hard work and scientific facts can beat Big Oil’s threat to our land and water.”
Randy Thompson, a Nebraska rancher, said, called the president’s decision courageous and historic. He said Obama “did what was right in the face of a totally misguided and unrelenting effort by the Republican party and Big Oil to shove this pipeline down our throats. History will defend President Obama and our descendants will forever be indebted to him.”
Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council said, “Rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is right for our nation, for our children and for our planet. It would have locked in, for a generation or more, massive development of among the dirtiest fuels on the planet – posing a serious threat to our air, land water, and climate. The proposal, pushed largely by the fossil fuel industry, was a recipe for disaster. In no way was the pipeline in America’s national interest.
“Dangerous climate change is the central environmental challenge of our time, and it’s time for everyone to step up now and meet that challenge.”
“The KO for Keystone is a win for birds and the rest of us,” said National Audubon Society president and CEO David Yarnold. “America’s Sandhill Cranes and other wildlife that were threatened by the pipeline can’t vote, so we’re popping some corks for them today.”