In a huge victory for environmentalists, President Obama announced today that he will reject a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The controversial pipeline would have connected Canada with the Gulf Coast refineries via a 1,179-mile pipeline. It has been fought against by environmental activists for seven long years.
The decision comes after the President met with Secretary of State John Kerry, who informed him that “the State Department has decided that a Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States.” Earlier this week, TransCanada sent a letter to Kerry asking the State Department to pause its review of the Presidential Permit application for the pipeline. This resulted in many groups urging the President to simply reject the proposal once and for all.
In his statement, President Obama said: “The State Department has decided that the Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the national interests of the United States. I agree with that decision.”
The President went on to cite concerns about the pipelines impact on the climate, stating “America’s now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change.”
Obama discussed several State Department findings:
“First, the pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy.” This is especially important to note, as backers of the project, notably newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan, claimed that it would create “tens of thousands of good paying-jobs.”
President Obama went on to say: “Second, the pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers. In fact, gas prices have already been falling steadily,” and “Third, shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security.”
Secretary Kerry said in his own statement that the State Department found that the construction of the pipeline “raises a range of concerns about the impact on local communities, water supplies, and cultural heritage sites,” and it would “facilitate transportation into our country of a particularly dirty source of fuel.”
Bill McKibben, founder of http://350.org, the environmental activism group that has been the most involved in protesting the pipeline, said in a statement: “President Obama is the first world leader to reject a project because of its effect on the climate,” McKibben said in a statement. “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 still … sad about Keystone south and are well aware that the next president could undo all this, but this is a day of celebration.”
By rejecting the pipeline, not only does Obama create his own climate legacy, he puts America in the right direction for climate action, regardless of large corporate agendas.
It is my hope that the President’s decision is just the start. In a few weeks he will join other leaders in Paris to begin major international climate talks.
See the President’s full speech below: