Obama Scuttles Keystone Pipeline
President Barack Obama is under fire for scuttling plans for the controversial $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline as heating oil costs soar, foxbusiness.com reports.
The 1700-mile pipeline project would have carried 700,000 barrels of Canadian sands crude to Texas refineries each day. Proponents argued it would create thousands of jobs, reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil from unstable Middle Eastern countries and provide a secure and plentiful source of energy for US homes and businesses.
However opponents have protested against the potential environmental effects of a major pipeline spill on pristine natural environments across six states and the threat to millions of people’s drinking water.
In a decision released last week, President Obama rejected the TransCanada project application, a month out from a February 21 deadline for the federal government to make a final call whether the project was in the national interest.
“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,” President Obama said in a statement.
The announcement “is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline” that prevented the fact-finding needed to approve the project.
However, TransCanada immediately indicated it would reapply in a bid to keep the project alive.
“While we are disappointed, TransCanada remains fully committed to the construction of Keystone XL,” TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said in a statement. “Plans are already underway on a number of fronts to largely maintain the construction schedule of the project.”
TransCanada said it planned to reapply for a permit and expected processing of the new application to be expedited, paving the way for an in-service date of late 2014.
“Until this pipeline is constructed, the US will continue to import millions of barrels of conflict oil from the Middle East and Venezuela and other foreign countries who do not share democratic values Canadians and Americans are privileged to have,” Girling said.
Heating oil dealers have been campaigning for the pipeline to proceed. They and their customers are battling spiraling heating oil prices, largely on the back of volatile world crude markets and heavy international demand for distillate fuel.
New England Fuel Institute president Michael Trunzo said late last year he supported the pipeline as a means of securing reliable energy supply for heating oil customers in the Northeast and creating jobs for US workers.
Republicans seized on President Obama’s decision.
“By declaring that the Keystone pipeline is not in the ‘national interest,’ the President demonstrates a lack of seriousness about bringing down unemployment, restoring economic growth, and achieving energy independence,” GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney said in a statement.
TransCanada and other supporters of Keystone have said the project would create tens of thousands of jobs and some have even forecasted as much as 100,000 jobs would be created.
“The job creation, economic and energy security arguments are overwhelmingly in favor of building it,” said US Sen. Dick Lugar, from Indiana. “The President opposing pipeline construction is not in the best interest of the United States.”
However, President Obama defended his record on energy policy and rejected allegations he was not concerned about the nation’s energy security.
The Keystone decision “does not change my Administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil. Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up, while imports of foreign oil are down. In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security.”