Environmentalists angered over Obama nod to Keystone XL
Washington, DC, United States (AHN) – The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was blessed by President Barack Obama as he endorsed construction Monday of a key southern portion of the project that has been actively giving Republicans ammunition to attack the incumbent Democrat president.
After rejecting the entire project just a month ago, the White House threw its support to construction of a southern portion of the pipeline, running from Cushing, OK, to Port Arthur, TX, after TransCanada, the Canadian firm pushing the pipeline, announced its intentions to push ahead with construction of the southern part.
“The pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf could potentially be important precisely because there are bottlenecks in Cushing right now that prevent what is essentially a glut of domestically produced oil from getting to market, getting to refineries and getting to market,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told journalists. “That glut exists in part because of the increase in oil production domestically in this country over the last eight years. We are at an eight-year high, as you know.”
The pipeline would create jobs, Carney said. “We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to taking every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits.”
The decision drew immediate opposition because of its potential environmental impact.
Calling it “an alarming about-face” by the Obama administration, Kim Huynh, dirty fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said, “Any attempt to move forward with any segment of the pipeline will be met with the same fierce grassroots opposition that stopped the pipeline the first time.”
“The administration must stop trying to have it both ways. President Obama cannot expect to protect the climate and to put the country on a path toward 21st-century clean energy while simultaneously shilling for one of the dirtiest industries on Earth,” said Huynh.
Explaining the move by the White House, Frank Maisano, a Washington-based energy pundit, said, “The President is trying to be for the Keystone pipeline, now that he’s been against it – especially with gas prices rising.”
“He endorsed TransCanada’s decision to break up the Keystone XL pipeline project and separately build the section from Oklahoma to Texas, which does not need administration approval,” Maisano added.
Moreover, the Obama administration confirmed that TransCanada would launch another attempt to get permission to complete the rejected pipeline.
“We have now received a letter here at the Department from TransCanada advising us that it does intend to apply for a new presidential permit for the piece of pipeline that would cross the border. So when we receive that application, we will obviously begin processing it,” Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokesperson, told journalists on Monday.
Carney, at the White House, said, “We simply hope that the process that that review would demand would be allowed to take place without more political gamesmanship by Republicans.”