Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline

As expected, US President Barack Obama on Wednesday rejected a proposal from TransCanada Corp., which wants to build a pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada to Texas. Dubbed the Keystone XL, the pipeline has been the cause of abundant controversy in recent weeks, as supporters argue that the project will create jobs and opponents hang their arguments on the environmental impact of channeling oil 1,700 miles across the nation’s heartland.

Obama blamed his rejection of the Keystone pipeline on Republicans, who he said had given him too little time to review the proposal before asking for a decision. “As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment.” Obama said in a televised press conference held to announce the decision. “As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.”

Rejection of the fast-track approval of the project has been expected since, two weeks ago, the President asked Congress to give him until next year to decide on the proposal, a request Congress denied, requiring a decision by Wednesday as part of a bill containing a popular tax cut. Obama noted that his decision was not based on “the merits of the pipeline,” but by the State Department’s inability to gather enough information to ensure the safety of the American people.

The Republicans, meanwhile, have already begun working on a plan to circumvent the President and get the pipeline started. State Department officials noted that TransCanada can reapply for a permit if a portion of the intended route in Nebraska is re-routed away from an aquifer which critics have charged would be contaminated if a spill occurred. A spokesman for TransCanada complained that diverting the pipeline’s path around the aquifer would mean substantial delays and millions in additional costs for a project that is ready to get off the ground now.