Last year President Obama said he would only approve the Keystone XL pipeline project if it is found that it wouldn’t contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. “Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest,” he said. “And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It’s relevant.”
Today a State Department report removed that as an obstacle to the pipeline, finding that the project would not increase greenhouse gas emissions.
The latest environmental review, the fifth released on the project since 2010 — acknowledges that development of tar sands in Alberta would create greenhouse gases, a State Department official said. But the report makes clear that other methods of transporting the oil — including rail, trucks and barges — would release more greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming than the pipeline.
The question is, will President Obama find wiggle room to keep up his opposition? The message from Senate Republicans is, “no more excuses.”
The argument against the pipeline keeps getting harder, especially with train derailments and heating gas shortages driven by overwhelmed energy infrastructure, shows just how badly this and other projects are needed.
Here’s reactions from North Dakota’s congressional delegation.
Senator Heidi Heitkamp
“Today, we are one step closer toward approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. This report again reaffirmed that construction of the pipeline will have minimal environmental impact. It also recognizes what I have repeatedly stated – regardless of whether this pipeline is built or not, the Canadian oil-sands will be developed. The question is, will Canada move it to the U.S. to be refined, or somewhere else across the globe? We have the opportunity to make sure it comes to the U.S., where it would boost domestic energy production by bringing in oil from our greatest trading partner and friend, and continue to move us toward North American energy security and independence – a goal we all want to achieve.
“The U.S. has thousands of pipelines moving oil and gas throughout the U.S., with many already moving products between the U.S. and Canada. While politics has continually been brought into this discussion, we need to remember that this is simply a transportation issue. North Dakotans know very well that we need to greatly increase our capacity to transport energy, and doing it by pipeline is one of the safer ways to do that.
“It’s appalling this process is taking so long. Not only is it unacceptable, but it’s embarrassing that we cannot approve a pipeline application in the time it took us to fight World War II. Since I took office, I have addressed this issue using both common sense, and my private sector experience working for Dakota Gasification for twelve years. I’ll continue to press the Administration to approve this pipeline, which is in our economic, national security, and energy interests. It’s the right thing for our country.”
Rep. Kevin Cramer:
This latest State Department document adds to a pile of 15,500 pages of existing review on the most studied pipeline in history. Six years after the application to build Keystone XL was first submitted, Americans are still asking President Obama why he has not approved a project which will solve infrastructure problems and create jobs. Now the State Department says it needs even more time to determine whether construction is in the national interest. It should be as abundantly clear to the President as it is to me and the overwhelming majority of Americans that pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to move oil to market, and this country needs the thousands of jobs Keystone would provide. There is no question building this pipeline is in the national interest, and President Obama should demonstrate leadership by approving it immediately.
Senator John Hoeven
“The U.S. State Department’s final EIS released today is a step forward in that it poses no reason for President Obama to deny approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project. Although not explicit, this finding is consistent with four previous findings that affirm the need to begin construction without delay.
“On the other hand, the report is vague and provides no timeline for a final decision, giving the president broad room to postpone a decision further. That would be consistent with his tactic over the past five years of trying to defeat the project through bureaucratic delay and deferral.
“At this point, we need to keep the pressure on the administration, both legislatively and in the court of public opinion. A recent Harris Interactive poll found that a large majority of Americans support not only the Keystone XL project but also expanding the nation’s oil and gas infrastructure with new pipelines and other facilities. The question now is will President Obama heed the will of the American people and move the project forward, or will he continue to delay.”