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Trump advancing Keystone XL, Dakota Access pipelines by executive order

President Donald Trump is expected to use his executive powers to advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

TransCanada, the foreign company behind the Keystone XL project, will attempt to use eminent domain to sue U.S. landowners and seize private property in order to pipe this fuel across the United States for export.

After Barack Obama rejected the pipeline in 2015, TransCanada sued the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement for $15 billion. Despite his previous remarks concerning NAFTA, Trump did not address the company and its lawsuit before backing the KXL project.

Following months of national opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Department of the Army ordered an environmental review of the project in December 2016.

The pipeline was originally proposed to cross the Missouri River just above Bismarck, North Dakota, but after complaints, it was rerouted to cross the river along sacred Tribal grounds, less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation..

Trump had invested in Energy Transfer, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. His spokespeople have claimed he has since divested, but no proof of this has been presented.

Reaction to the news of the executive orders from 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben: More people sent comments against Dakota Access and Keystone XL to the government than any project in history. The world’s climate scientists and its Nobel laureates explained over and over why it was unwise and immoral. In one of his first actions as president, Donald Trump ignores all that in his eagerness to serve the oil industry. It’s a dark day for reason, but we will continue the fight.

“This is not a done deal. The last time around, TransCanada was so confident they literally mowed the strip where they planned to build the pipeline, before people power stopped them. People will mobilize again.”

And more reaction from the progressive community:

350.org executive director May Boeve said: “Trump clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing. Indigenous peoples, landowners, and climate activists did everything in our power to stop Keystone XL and Dakota Access, and we’ll do it again. These orders will only reignite the widespread grassroots opposition to these pipelines and other dirty energy projects. Trump is about to meet the fossil fuel resistance head on.”

Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard said: “A powerful alliance of Indigenous communities, ranchers, farmers and climate activists stopped the Keystone and the Dakota Access pipelines the first time around, and the same alliances will come together to stop them again if Trump tries to raise them from the dead. Instead of pushing bogus claims about the potential of pipelines to create jobs, Trump should focus his efforts on the clean energy sector where America’s future lives. Trump’s energy plan is more of the same — full of giveaways to his fossil fuel cronies at a time when renewable energy is surging ahead.

“We all saw the incredible strength and courage of the water protectors at Standing Rock, and the people around the world who stood with them in solidarity. We’ll stand with them again if Trump tries to bring the Dakota Access Pipeline, or any other fossil fuel infrastructure project, back to life.”

Oil Change International campaigns director David Turnbull said: “Both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines will never be completed, no matter what President Trump and his oil-soaked cabinet try to do. Trump’s first days in office saw massive opposition, marking the beginning of four years of resistance to his dangerous policies. We stopped Keystone XL and Dakota Access before and we’ll do it again. These are fights Trump and his bullies won’t win.”

CREDO Deputy Political Director Josh Nelson said: “President Trump is showing that he’s in the pocket of big corporations and foreign oil interests. Approving these dirty oil pipelines would poison American air and water, supercharge climate change and trample Native American rights. Fierce grassroots activism has stopped these pipelines over and over again.”

Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said: “Donald Trump has been in office for four days and he’s already proving to be the dangerous threat to our climate we feared he would be. But, these pipelines are far from being in the clear. The millions of Americans and hundreds of Tribes that stood up to block them in the first place will not be silenced, and will continue fighting these dirty and dangerous projects.

“Trump claims he’s a good businessman, yet he’s encouraging dirty, dangerous tar sands development when clean energy is growing faster, producing more jobs, and has a real future. Trump claims he cares about the American people, but he’s allowing oil companies to steal and threaten their land by constructing dirty and dangerous pipelines through it. Trump claims he wants to protect people’s clean air and water, but he’s permitting a tar sand superhighway that will endanger both and hasten the climate crisis.

“The Keystone pipeline was rejected because it was not in the country’s interest, and the environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline was ordered because of the threats it poses to the Standing Rock Sioux. Nothing has changed. These pipelines were a bad idea then and they’re a bad idea now.

“Simply put, Donald Trump is who we thought he is: a person who will sell off Americans’ property and Tribal rights, clean air, and safe water to corporate polluters.”

Indigenous Environmental Network executive director Tom BK Goldtooth said: “The Indigenous Environmental Network is extremely alarmed with President Donald Trump’s announcement of the two Executive Orders setting the stage for approving the dirty energy pipeline projects of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Sioux Tribes, as sovereign Native nations, were never consulted by Trump or his Administration on this decision that further violates the treaty rights of the Lakota, Nakota, Dakota people. Trump is portraying his true self by joining forces with the darkness of the Black Snake pipelines crossing across the culturally and environmentally rich landscape of the prairie lands of America.

“These actions by President Trump are insane and extreme, and nothing short of attacks on our ancestral homelands as Indigenous peoples. The actions by the president today demonstrate that this Administration is more than willing to violate federal law that is meant to protect Indigenous rights, human rights, the environment and the overall safety of communities for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry.”

Forum on ‘Enbridge Tar Sands Invasion’ set for April 13

Jane Kleeb, leader of the group Bold Nebraska, will address Midwest tar sands pipeline issues at the University of Wisconsin–Madison on April 13.

Former state Rep. Spencer Black and landowner Mark Borchardt also will speak at the “The Enbridge Tar Sands Invasion” community forum set for 6 p.m.

Kleeb played a crucial role in stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, which was rejected by President Obama last November.

The pipeline, proposed by Canadian company TransCanada, would have transported 830,000 barrels a day of tar sands oil from the boreal forests of Alberta to the Gulf Coast.

Kleeb, according to a news release, built a diverse coalition of ranchers, tribal members, environmentalists and others to push the federal government to reject the pipeline.

Now, Kleeb is bringing her campaign to Wisconsin, according to the release from 350 Madison and the Sierra Club.

The groups said the timing could not be better: Wisconsin already has the Line 61 pipeline, which cuts through the heart of the state.

Enbridge, the Canadian company that owns Line 61, is now proposing to add another pipeline through Wisconsin, variously called the Line 61 “twin” or Line 66. Together, the two pipelines could transport three times as much oil as the failed Keystone project would have carried.

At the forum, Black will discuss the risks the pipelines pose in Wisconsin. The pipelines cross some of Wisconsin’s most important waterways, including the St. Croix River, the Wisconsin River, and the Rock River. Moreover, expanding tar sands oil pipelines will exacerbate climate change at a time when we need to be moving quickly toward a clean energy economy.

The Enbridge expansion would require widening the existing pipeline corridor. Recent law changes in Wisconsin have made it easier for pipeline companies to take land through eminent domain.

Borchardt will speak about how Wisconsin landowners are coming together to fight Enbridge’s expansion. Nebraska’s experience proved that when a group of property owners refuse to let a foreign corporation seize land that has been in their families for generations, they can effectively block the expansion of pipelines.

The event will be at the Lowell Center, 610 Langdon St.

Click here for more information or tickets to the free event.

Hearing in Enbridge case on April 11

A hearing was set to take place April 11 in Dane County Circuit Court on Enbridge Energy Company’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a group of landowners who live adjacent to the company’s Line 61 Waterloo pump station.

The landowners are suing for injunctive relief to enforce the spill cleanup requirement imposed on Enbridge by Dane County’s Zoning and Land Regulation Committee.

Oral argument was scheduled for 1:30 in Courtroom 5D at the county courthouse before Judge Richard Niess, according to 350 Madison.

TransCanada sues United States over KXL rejection, wants $15 billion

TransCanada Corp. on Jan. 7 sued the United States seeking $15 billion in compensation after the Obama administration rejected its request for a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

“TransCanada was wrong to try to ram the dirty tar sands pipeline down our throats — and it’s wrong to try to force American taxpayers to pony up for its mistakes,” said Anthony Swift, director of the National Resources Defense Council’s Canada project. “This is about a foreign company trying to undercut safeguards that protect the American people. Its attempt to bully us deserves to be rejected.”

Jason Kowalski, policy director for 350.org, one of the environmental groups that led the effort against the pipeline, added, “This won’t actually help build the pipeline, too late for that. It’s just a greedy and desperate move by TransCanada to try and salvage some of the money they wasted on this ridiculous boondoggle.”

The company alleged Barack Obama exceeded his constitutional authority in denying the pipeline, claiming the president’s denial of the pipeline permit was a symbolic gesture to show his support for action against climate change.

TransCanada also is using a provision in the North American Free Trade Agreement to sue the United States. The provision — the investor-state dispute settlement — gives corporations the power to sue governments for decisions taken in the broader public interest.

Kowalski said the lawsuit “is a reminder that we shouldn’t be signing new trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership that allow corporations to sue governments that try and keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

Year in Review: Mixed year for environment

President Barack Obama sealed the cap on a major climate threat, rejecting in November TransCanada’s application for the Keystone XL pipeline after years of review by the State Department.

But the expansion of a Wisconsin pipeline will allow it to carry far more oil than the KXL ever would have. In the decision announced Nov. 6, the president said the 1,179-mile pipeline wouldn’t have lowered U.S. gas prices, nor would it have contributed to U.S. jobs long-term or make the U.S. less dependent on foreign energy.

“This is a big win,” May Boeve, executive director of the environmental group 350.org, said. “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.”

Within a month of the KXL decision, the president and other U.S. leaders were in Paris for a global summit on climate change, forging a difficult and delicate agreement to share the burden of fighting climate change and shift to clean energy.

Back in Washington, Republican leaders in Congress expressed opposition to a pact, continuing an anti-environmental agenda that in 2015 included campaigns to weaken protections for endangered species, rollback regulations on pollution and sell off or lease public lands for development, mining and other commercial ventures.

Their counterparts in Wisconsin waged an all-out assault on the state’s traditions of preserving wild places, conserving resources and curbing pollution.

Gov. Scott Walker took the lead on the anti-environmental campaign, opposing new federal standards and regulations for clean water and clean air. In November, the Walker administration joined 23 other states in seeking to reverse the Clean Power Plan, which the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters has described as a common-sense approach that will reduce carbon pollution, lower health risks and create clean energy jobs in the state.

The GOP-dominated Legislature, meanwhile, eased the way for Enbridge Energy, a Canadian company responsible for the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history, to dramatically expand its pumping of Alberta tar sands oil across the state. Enbridge is expanding Line 61, a 42-inch diameter pipeline built in 2009 carrying tar sands oil from a terminal in Superior, Wisconsin, to a terminal in Pontiac, Illinois.

“The Paris climate change agreement will help protect my children and future grandchildren and will help ensure that we provide a better future for them,” said Emily Jacobson, an activist with the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. “Unfortunately, here in Wisconsin, our elected leaders are not following the lead of more than 180 countries that know it’s well past time to act on carbon pollution.”

There were conservation wins in the state, as Walker failed in attempts to freeze the land protection program in the budget, turn the Department of Natural Resources board into an advisory body and cut conservation staff. Additionally, the Legislature enacted a law to phase out the production and sale of personal care products containing tiny plastic microbeads that pollute waterways.

Get ready for line 61

In 2016, Enbridge is expected to ramp up the volume on its tar sands pipeline buried beneath every major waterway in Wisconsin. Line 61 will convey more tar sands oil than any pipeline in the U.S. — up to an 1.2 million barrels daily. That’s one-third more than the 800,000 barrels that would have been carried by the KXL. For months, a Dane County zoning committee stood in the way of the project, claiming Enbridge wasn’t sufficiently insured. But the GOP-held Legislature passed laws demolishing that strategy and giving companies the right to seize private land through eminent domain. According to the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, Enbridge has committed more than 100 violations in 14 Wisconsin counties. — Louis Weisberg

Remarks by the president on the Keystone XL decision

The following are the Nov. 6 remarks of President Barack Obama on the Keystone XL pipeline decision:

Good morning, everybody. Several years ago, the State Department began a review process for the proposed construction of a pipeline that would carry Canadian crude oil through our heartland to ports in the Gulf of Mexico and out into the world market.

This morning, Secretary Kerry informed me that, after extensive public outreach and consultation with other Cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States. I agree with that decision.

This morning, I also had the opportunity to speak with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada. And while he expressed his disappointment, given Canada’s position on this issue, we both agreed that our close friendship on a whole range of issues, including energy and climate change, should provide the basis for even closer coordination between our countries going forward. And in the coming weeks, senior members of my team will be engaging with theirs in order to help deepen that cooperation.

Now, for years, the Keystone Pipeline has occupied what I, frankly, consider an overinflated role in our political discourse. It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter. And all of this obscured the fact that 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.

To illustrate this, let me briefly comment on some of the reasons why the State Department rejected this pipeline.

First: The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy. So if Congress is serious about wanting to create jobs, this was not the way to do it. If they want to do it, what we should be doing is passing a bipartisan infrastructure plan that, in the short term, could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year as the pipeline would, and in the long run would benefit our economy and our workers for decades to come.

Our businesses created 268,000 new jobs last month. They’ve created 13.5 million new jobs over the past 68 straight months — the longest streak on record. The unemployment rate fell to 5 percent. This Congress should pass a serious infrastructure plan, and keep those jobs coming. That would make a difference. The pipeline would not have made a serious impact on those numbers and on the American people’s prospects for the future. 

Second: The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers. In fact, gas prices have already been falling — steadily. The national average gas price is down about 77 cents over a year ago. It’s down a dollar over two years ago. It’s down $1.27 over three years ago. Today, in 41 states, drivers can find at least one gas station selling gas for less than two bucks a gallon. So while our politics have been consumed by a debate over whether or not this pipeline would create jobs and lower gas prices, we’ve gone ahead and created jobs and lowered gas prices.

Third: Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security. What has increased America’s energy security is our strategy over the past several years to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world. Three years ago, I set a goal to cut our oil imports in half by 2020. Between producing more oil here at home, and using less oil throughout our economy, we met that goal last year — five years early. In fact, for the first time in two decades, the United States of America now produces more oil than we buy from other countries.

Now, the truth is, the United States will continue to rely on oil and gas as we transition — as we must transition — to a clean energy economy. That transition will take some time. But it’s also going more quickly than many anticipated. Think about it. Since I took office, we’ve doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas by 2025; tripled the power we generate from the wind; multiplied the power we generate from the sun 20 times over. Our biggest and most successful businesses are going all-in on clean energy. And thanks in part to the investments we’ve made, there are already parts of America where clean power from the wind or the sun is finally cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.

The point is the old rules said we couldn’t promote economic growth and protect our environment at the same time. The old rules said we couldn’t transition to clean energy without squeezing businesses and consumers. But this is America, and we have come up with new ways and new technologies to break down the old rules, so that today, homegrown American energy is booming, energy prices are falling, and over the past decade, even as our economy has continued to grow, America has cut our total carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.

Today, the United States of America is leading on climate change with our investments in clean energy and energy efficiency. America is leading on climate change with new rules on power plants that will protect our air so that our kids can breathe. America is leading on climate change by working with other big emitters like China to encourage and announce new commitments to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. In part because of that American leadership, more than 150 nations representing nearly 90 percent of global emissions have put forward plans to cut pollution.

America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership. And that’s the biggest risk we face — not acting. 

Today, we’re continuing to lead by example. Because ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.

As long as I’m President of the United States, America is going to hold ourselves to the same high standards to which we hold the rest of the world. And three weeks from now, I look forward to joining my fellow world leaders in Paris, where we’ve got to come together around an ambitious framework to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can.

If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now. Not later. Not someday. Right here, right now. And I’m optimistic about what we can accomplish together. I’m optimistic because our own country proves, every day — one step at a time — that not only do we have the power to combat this threat, we can do it while creating new jobs, while growing our economy, while saving money, while helping consumers, and most of all, leaving our kids a cleaner, safer planet at the same time. 

That’s what our own ingenuity and action can do. That’s what we can accomplish. And America is prepared to show the rest of the world the way forward.

Thank you very much.

Obama administration rejects ploy by TransCanada to delay Keystone XL review

The Obama administration said this week it is continuing a review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, despite a request by the project’s developer to suspend the review.

If granted, a delay could have put off a decision on the high-profile project until the next U.S. president takes office in 2017. President Barack Obama has yet to say whether he would approve or reject the pipeline, but the Democrats running for president have all said they oppose it while Republican candidates support it.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said the department advised TransCanada on Wednesday of its decision to continue the review. The State Department has jurisdiction over the pipeline because it crosses a U.S. border.

Kirby said there was no legal requirement for officials to suspend the review, adding that “a lot of interagency work” has gone into the evaluation so far. Secretary of State John Kerry “believes that it’s most appropriate to keep the process in place,” Kirby said.

Calgary-based TransCanada asked the U.S. on Monday to delay consideration of the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline, the latest wrinkle in a seven-year quest for the project.

TransCanada said it respects the U.S. decision and will continue its efforts to demonstrate that the long-delayed pipeline – a flashpoint in the global debate over climate change – is in the U.S. national interest.

Five reports and 17,000 pages of State Department review have shown the project’s benefits over the past seven-plus years, said TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper.

“The fundamental question remains: Do Americans want to continue to import millions of barrels of oil every day from the Middle East and Venezuela or do they want to get their oil from North Dakota and Canada through Keystone XL?” Cooper said. “We believe the answer is clear and the choice is Keystone XL.”

The 1,179-mile pipeline would run from Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day from tar sands in western Canada to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Opponents say the project requires huge amounts of energy and water and increases greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. They also warn that pipeline leaks could potentially pollute underground aquifers that are a critical source of water for farmers in the Great Plains.

Supporters say the project will create jobs and reduce U.S. reliance on Middle Eastern oil. They argue that pipelines are a safer method of transporting oil than trains, pointing to recent derailments on both sides of the border, including a 2013 disaster in Canada that killed 47 people.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Wednesday that Obama should reject the Keystone project before heading to Paris next month to finalize a global climate agreement,

The Vermont independent senator said rejecting the pipeline now would show “bold leadership” and signal to the world that the United States was serious about addressing climate change, which Sanders called “a major, major, major planetary crisis.”

Sanders said he had “zero doubt” that if a Republican wins the presidential election, “on Day One the Keystone people will be back pushing for that pipeline. I think their hope is that Republicans win, and when they do the path will be open for that pipeline and other disastrous environmental legislation.”

Environmental groups hailed the decision to continue the review and urged Obama to act swiftly to reject the pipeline.

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s top lobbying group, said polls consistently show a strong majority of Americans support the project.

Thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wages and investment “that could be made building Keystone remain out of reach because this president refuses to make the right decision,” said Louis Finkel, the group’s executive vice president.

TransCanada wants to suspend Keystone XL application

After waiting seven years for a decision, the company behind the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas has asked the U.S. State Department to suspend its review of the project. The move comes as the Obama administration increasingly appears likely to reject the pipeline permit application before leaving office in January 2017.

TransCanada said on Nov. 2 it had sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting that the State Department suspend its review of the pipeline application. Until recently, it would have been unimaginable for the Calgary, Alberta-based company to ask for a delay.

The pipeline company said such a suspension would be appropriate while it works with Nebraska authorities to secure approval of its preferred route through the state that is facing legal challenges in state courts. TransCanada anticipated it would take seven to 12 months to get route approval from Nebraska authorities.

The State Department review is mandated as part of the application process because the $8 billion pipeline crosses an international border. The State Department does not have to grant TransCanada’s request for a pause in the review and instead can continue the process.

“We have just received TransCanada’s letter to Secretary Kerry and are reviewing it. In the meantime, consideration under the Executive Order continues,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said.

The White House declined to comment, referring all questions to the State Department.

Ahead of TransCanada’s announcement Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama intended to make a decision on the pipeline before his presidency ends in January 2017, although he declined to elaborate on the timeline. Hillary Rodham Clinton and her main challengers for the Democratic presidential nomination are already on record as opposing Keystone. All of the leading Republican presidential candidates support the pipeline.

Some pipeline opponents contend that TransCanada hopes to delay the review process in hopes that a more sympathetic Republican administration will move into the White House in 2017 and approve it.

“In defeat, TransCanada is asking for extra time from the referees, and clearly hoping they’ll get a new head official after the election. It’s time for the current umpire, President Obama, to reject this project once and for all,” said environmental activist Bill McKibben, co-founder of the group 350.org.

Jane Kleeb, executive director of the group Bold Nebraska, which opposes the pipeline project, also said TransCanada is only asking for a pause because they hope a Republican president will approve the pipeline.

For seven years, the fate of the 1,179-mile (1,900-kilometer) long pipeline has languished amid debates over climate change and the intensive process of extracting Alberta’s oil and U.S. energy security

Keystone has long been a flashpoint in the U.S. debate over climate change. Critics oppose the concept of tapping the Alberta oil sands, saying it requires huge amounts of energy and water and increases greenhouse gas emissions. They also express concern that pipeline leaks could potentially pollute underground aquifers that are a critical source of water to farmers on the Great Plains.

TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper acknowledged they “have been hearing since February the same rumors that a denial or a decision is imminent” from the Obama administration but said the company’s focus remains on demonstrating the project is in the interest of the United States.

“Our focus isn’t on the political machinations of what this president may or may not do or who may be in office a year from now,” Cooper said.

Cooper declined to make TransCanada chief executive Russ Girling available for an interview but noted the company reports its earnings on Tuesday and said the CEO will take questions then.

Pipeline supporters maintain it will create jobs and boost energy independence. They also say pipelines are a safer method of transporting oil than trains, pointing to recent cases of oil train derailments.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts reiterated his support for Keystone in a statement issued by his spokesman Taylor Gage.

“The Governor has been clear … that it will be the safest pipeline built yet in our state, and that it will bring good-paying jobs and property tax revenue to Nebraska’s counties,” it said.

Ricketts declared his support for TransCanada’s decision announced last month to shift course in Nebraska and seek new approval from the state Public Service Commission, an elected five-member group that oversees most pipelines.

Former Gov. Dave Heineman approved a Nebraska route for Keystone XL in 2013 after a review by the state Department of Environmental Quality. But the 2012 law that gave him the power to do so has been challenged by landowners in court, preventing the project from moving forward within the state.

Both North Dakota senators, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Republican John Hoeven, criticized the Obama administration’s long delay in approving the pipeline.

Hoeven said it’s “clear” that the administration intends to deny the pipeline permit, which he claimed would have “a chilling effect on the willingness of other companies to invest in important energy infrastructure projects in the United States.”

TransCanada announced the project in 2008, which has undergone repeated federal and state reviews. The pipeline would be built from Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Delays in approving the pipeline have caused friction between the U.S. and the outgoing Canadian Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Harper was frustrated by Obama’s reluctance to approve the pipeline and the issue damaged U.S-Canada relations. Although incoming Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is sworn in Wednesday, supports Keystone, he argues relations with the U.S. should not hinge on the project.

Canada needs infrastructure in place to export its growing oil sands production. Canada relies on the U.S. for 97 percent of its energy exports. Alberta has the world’s third largest oil reserves, with 170 billion barrels of proven reserves. But a sharp decline in the price of oil makes many of the new oil sands projects less viable.

Hillary Clinton opposes Keystone XL pipeline construction

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Sept. 22 that she opposes construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Clinton made the announcement in Iowa, addressing voters just days after new polls show her with a bump in her lead in that state, as well as New Hampshire and nationwide.

“I think it is imperative that we look at Keystone pipeline as what I believe it is — a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change,” Clinton said. “And unfortunately, from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward to deal with the other issues. Therefore I oppose it. I oppose it.”

The  Canada/U.S. project has been under review at the federal level for years — first when Clinton was secretary of state and now under Secretary of State John Kerry.

The pipeline would be used to transport oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. It has become a lightning rod for environmentalists on one side and big industry on the other.

Shortly after Clinton’s remarks, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders issued a statement: “As a senator who has vigorously opposed the Keystone pipeline from the beginning, I am glad that Secretary Clinton finally has made a decision and I welcome her opposition to the pipeline. Clearly it would be absurd to encourage the extraction and transportation of some of the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet.”

Clinton edges to Obama’s left on climate change

Hillary Rodham Clinton is voicing opposition to President Barack Obama’s authorization for oil drilling in the Alaska Arctic and his delays on Keystone XL, in some of the clearest signs of the Democratic front-runner distancing herself from the president.

Having agreed with him on most issues so far in her 2016 race, Clinton edged to Obama’s left on climate change this week. In the course of a few hours, she announced her disapproval of his move to allow Royal Dutch Shell to drill in the Arctic Ocean and her impatience for a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Clinton argued on Twitter that the Arctic is a unique treasure and “not worth the risk of drilling.” Then as she took questions from reporters later in Nevada, she said the U.S. should be focusing on cleaner sources of renewable energy, rather than risking “potential catastrophes” in the search for more oil.

“I think the very great difficulties that Shell encountered the last time they tried to do that should be a red flag for anybody,” Clinton said, referring to a setback that beset the oil giant when it tried to drill there in 2012, including a rig that ran aground.

One of Clinton’s challenges is winning enough support in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Her primary opponents like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have been vocal in their opposition to Keystone, Arctic drilling and other projects deemed risky for the environment. And in recent weeks, Clinton has sought subtle distinctions with Obama by suggesting that she could be more effective in working with Republicans to get things done.

Clinton’s comments on Arctic drilling came less than a day after the Obama administration, in a long-expected move, gave Shell the final permits needed to drill for oil off Alaska’s northwest coast, drawing consternation from environmentalists who warn about its effects on climate change and already vulnerable species in the region.

Unsurprisingly, the same groups that had criticized Obama praised Clinton for stating her opposition. “We applaud Secretary Clinton for standing up for what science, the will of the American people and common sense demand,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune.

Clinton’s Republican opponents pushed back, working to portray the Democrat as hostile to U.S. energy development. “Wrong,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush responded on Twitter. “Being more-anti energy than Obama is extreme.”

Added New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: “Still waiting to hear your position on Keystone.”

Clinton has said she won’t take a stance on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada into the U.S., unless the decision is still pending if and when she’s elected. Citing her work on the issue as secretary of state, Clinton argued it would be imprudent for her to weigh in. But Keystone supporters and opponents alike have questioned her refusal to say what she believes about an issue important to voters.

Following a town hall this week in Nevada, Clinton sought to reframe the question as one about Obama and why the pipeline was even still an open question. She said she “would really hope” a decision would come soon, adding she felt some responsibility since she was involved in the process earlier.

“But I am getting impatient, because I feel that at some point a decision needs to be made,” Clinton said. “And I’m not comfortable saying, you know, `I have to keep my opinion to myself’ given the fact that I was involved in it. So at some point I may change my view on that.”