Keystone XL Pipeline Must Be Built

Jan 10, 2013

CNN clip on a Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality report that says a new route for the Keystone XL pipeline would have "minimal environmental impacts."

In his State of American Business address, U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue declared that the Keystone XL pipeline "must be built." It's been almost a year since President Obama rejected construction of the pipeline that would move oil from Alberta, Canada to U.S. refineries.  

This is a good time for an update. New permits were filed by TransCanada, the company behind the project, and a new route was developed in Nebraska that avoids environmentally sensitive areas that were of concern. Last week, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality issued a report stating that a new route would have “minimal environmental impacts.” Governor Dave Heineman now has 30 days to send a recommendation to the federal government.

While this has gone on, construction of a southern leg (the "Gulf Coast Pipeline Project") connecting Oklahoma to Texas has been underway.  With this construction has come protests. Anti-energy activists have camped out in treeslocked themselves to machinery, and like actress Daryl Hannah, gotten arrested in their attempts to stop the pipeline. On Monday, a group of protesters swarmed into the lobby of TransCanada's Houston, TX office, and The Daily Caller reports that protests also took place in Wisconsin and at construction sites in East Texas. 

Anti-energy activities have also been happening at the national level. Environmental groups, including Bill McKibben's 350.org and the Sierra Club, sent a letter to President Obama asking him to reject the Keystone XL pipeline again and plan to march against the pipeline in Washington, DC in February.

With this pressure, what will the administration will do? The Vancouver Sun summed it up in an editorial:

Obama has to decide whether he's going to continue to exploit Keystone XL for partisan purposes or do what's in the national interest of the United States - less dependence on Middle East oil and respectful relations with Canada, for instance - and make a decision based on a reasoned consideration of the evidence.

In the first quarter of 2013, we should have another environmental impact report from the State Department. (Will it say anything different than the one issued in 2011 that said it would pose "no significant impacts"?) Then the administration will have to weigh creating 20,000 jobs versus placating anti-energy environmentalists; improving energy security versus not improving it; embracing North American energy abundance versus rejecting it.

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