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The Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada’s proposed 1,700 mile pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands to the Gulf of Mexico, got a little kick in the pants from President Obama last Thursday. Obama said that not only will he make the final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, but he also is personally going to examine the route, especially because of the public outcry in Nebraska. Hurrah for the President (and hurrah for Nebraska)! This statement came right after the State Department Inspector General announced an investigation of the State Department’s conduct and motives during the environmental review.
This is both good news and bad news for the conservationists and preservationists among us. Bad news first? Because the President is ordering a deeper study of the pipeline’s route and its environmental impact, he has pushed off a decision on the pipeline until after the 2012 election, into early 2013. Incidentally, Obama has forced other decisions past the 2012 election, like reviewing the nation’s smog standards and new regulations for coal plants. What this all means for us is that should Obama lose the 2012 election, we’ll have Jon Huntsman at best (and that is so optimistic it’s practically in La-La land) or Michele Bachmann at worst as President with final say over these projects. This decision, while the right thing to do, has also ensured that everyone who is under threat of eminent domain, drinks water from the Ogallala Aquifer or is afraid of global warming, must be rabidly invested in an Obama 2012 victory. And no one likes being manipulated.
In an interview with The New York Times, Glenn Hurowitz, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, said, “…I’m a little dismayed at suggestions that this kick-the-can decision means environmentalists will enthusiastically back President Obama in 2012. Is the price of an environmentalist’s vote a year’s delay on environmental catastrophe? Excuse me, no.”
Now the good news. We – the people who are afraid of global warming, use the Ogallala Aquifer for water, and ranch on the land that TransCanada wants – have been waiting for months for the Obama administration to own this decision. Obama is finally showing us that he hears our concerns. After getting lost in our country’s economic woes, he has finally re-opened the conversation about the economy and its intimate connection to the environment, and is going to own this decision. We applaud you, Mr. President.
More good news for project opponents is that this decision could actually affect the project more than we thought. The Calgary Herald reports that the shippers might pull financial backing because of their contracts. "I believe it could lead to the project not going ahead because the shippers have sunset clauses," said Juan Plessis, with Canaccord Capital, from Vancouver. "If TransCanada cannot reasonably expect to have a commencement date of December 31, 2013, then the shippers are not bound to the original agreement."
The Keystone XL project is a huge concern and there are a lot of moving parts, so we will continue to keep you updated as more news comes from Washington and Canada. In the meantime, thank President Obama for his first answer to our calls to action. You can send him a thank you email here or tweet to him @BarackObama.
Watch actor Robert Redford thank President Obama on EcoClipz.
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