Gone…Keystone XL Rejected by Obama

After six years the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline is over. And the good guys won. President Obama rejected the pipeline last Friday morning after meeting with his Secretary of State John Kerry. The State Department found that the pipeline would not be in the country’s national interest, and Obama agreed.

The President brought it down to three simple reasons as to why he rejected it:

1. He felt the pipeline wouldn’t make any meaningful long-term contribution to the economy. As Obama put it: “If Congress is serious about wanting to create jobs, this was not the way to do it.” The pipeline would have only created abut 35 permanent jobs it turns out, so he has a good point.
2. The pipeline won’t lead to lower gas prices given the current state of global oil prices.
3. And as Obama puts it: “Shipping dirtier crude oil into our county would not increase America’s energy security.”

This is actually more symbolic than anything, especially with COP21 coming up in Paris next month. In messages that couldn’t be any clearer for the whole world to hear, Obama said “The time to act is now. Not later, not someday, right here, right now.” And John Kerry had this to say about it:

“The critical factor in my determination [as Secretary of State] was this: moving forward with this project would significantly undermine our ability to continue leading the world in combating climate change. I am also convinced that public arguments for and against the pipeline have, to some extent, been overstated. Our analysis makes it clear that the Keystone XL pipeline would not be the economic driver it is heralded to be. Decades of science prove beyond any reasonable doubt that human activity is a direct cause of the rising seas, increasing temperatures, and intensifying storms threatening our planet—and the window of opportunity for action to prevent the worst impacts of climate change is closing quickly. I have seen the world try and fail to address this threat for decades. Today, the need for American leadership to combat climate change has never been greater, and we must answer the call. The United States cannot ask other nations to make tough choices to address climate change if we are unwilling to make them ourselves. Denying the Keystone XL pipeline is one of those tough choices—but it is the right decision, for America and the world.

Keystone XL has been a target for environmentalists over the years. Its sole purpose is to transport crude oil in the form of bitumen from the tar sands in Alberta, the most carbon-intensive form of oil, down to the Gulf Coast. That oil would have been responsible for 181 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year, the equivalent of 51 coal-fired power plants.

If America is looking for energy independence, it shouldn’t rely on dirty carbon-intensive oil from Canada, it should invest in renewables instead.

The Keystone XL Pipeline: Going, Going….

TransCanada, the Canadian oil company behind the Keystone XL pipeline has asked the US State Department to suspend its current review process for the pipeline. As Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement:

We are asking State to pause its review of Keystone XL based on the fact that we have applied to the Nebraska Public Service Commission for approval of its preferred route in the state. I note that when the status of the Nebraska pipeline route was challenged last year, the State Department found it appropriate to suspend its review until that dispute was resolved. We feel under the current circumstances a similar suspension would be appropriate.

Such a review could take up to a year, and at first this might sound like a victory for people like me who are opposed to Keystone XL. But TransCanada has another motive behind this latest action on their part. We’ve all been waiting for six years to obtain a final decision on the status of Keystone XL and it was thought that President Obama would render such a decision before the end of his administration, but he’s been waiting for the State Department to complete its final report on the project. So what happens if the State Department suspends the review process like TransCanada is asking? Well, it just might delay the pipeline’s final approval until another administration is in the White House. And if it’s a Republican administration, then Keystone XL is absolutely sure to get approval. (Those TransCanadians are crafty buggers, aren’t they?)

Bill McKibben, an outspoken environmentalist and the founder of 350.org put it this way:

Clearly TransCanada has lost and they recognize that. It’s one of the great victories for this movement in decades. In defeat, TransCanada is asking for extra time from the referees, and clearly hoping they’ll get a new head official after the election. It’s time for the current umpire, President Obama, to reject this project once and for all, and go to Paris as the first world leader to stop a major project because of its effect on the climate.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of this, and this could be the turning point in history where in the centuries to come people will look back and say either “This was when people finally chose the right path” or “This was when people blew it.” Clearly TransCanada is desperate and is making a last-ditch effort to try to ultimately win approval for its pipeline. But for our planet to move forward with the goal that we can curb our emissions and have any hope of keeping global warming to less than two degrees Celsius, we have to start acting like we actually plan to do something about it. Stopping Keystone XL would be the perfect good start.

"I'm All About That Oil, 'Bout That Oil….and Profits!"

When people debate over Keystone XL, the opponents argue it’s the dirtiest oil on the planet barrel-for-barrel, destroys the world’s largest boreal forest in Alberta in order to procure the bitumen, creates a huge environmental threat along the entire pipeline route, and is a clear move in the wrong direction when it comes to fighting global emissions. Proponents of Keystone XL talk about how much it will benefit the economy and the number of jobs it will create. Although both of those arguments for the pipeline are rather misleading—the bitumen will be exported and the permanent jobs will be very few—at least they try to fool everyone into thinking it’s a good thing.

TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline has no such plans to mislead. Straight out, their plan is all about exporting oil so they can make money. It’s not a made-in-Canada energy solution at all. Up to 90 percent of Energy East’s oil would be exported unrefined as bitumen. All the arguments against Keystone XL still apply: dirtiest oil, destroying the boreal forest, environmental threat along its route, and contributing to worsening emissions. And just like Keystone XL, as an export pipeline it won’t create many permanent jobs or have lasting economic benefits to local communities along the route. The main difference here is that TransCanada isn’t even suggesting those benefits exist. In other words, they’re simply asking Canadians to allow this pipeline to be built so they can make lots of money, plain and simple.

If you live in Canada and would like to stand up against the Energy East pipeline, you can take action here: http://ow.ly/LQMol

Keystone XL: Vetoed

“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”

Yesterday, President Obama vetoed the bill that would have approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline which would have transported tar sands oil from Alberta down to refineries on the Gulf coast. The veto comes as no surprise since Obama was expected to reject the bill and the Congress doesn’t have enough Republican votes to override him.

Sadly, the fight over Keystone XL is not over. Obama’s veto means Congress can’t force the pipeline’s construction through legislation. Rather, now it goes back to the State Department where, frankly, it’s been for the last six years. Ultimately the State Department will make a recommendation to Secretary of State John Kerry on whether Keystone XL is “in the national interest.” Secretary Kerry gets to make the official determination with no official timeline in sight, but that decisions is something that will likely have substantial influence on the President’s final decision.

However, there are a few things to watch that will help State to make its final determination:  Continue reading

Keystone XL: On-Again, Off-Again

“Nebraska landowners are not going to cave to their threats and we will now see them in our Supreme Court to finally get clarity on the legality of a foreign corporation using eminent domain for private gain.”
—Jane Kleeb, Director of Bold Nebraska

Just last month, the Nebraska Supreme Court decided to reverse a lower court’s decision that would allow TransCanada’s Keystone XL’s pipeline route through the state. The law (with the sexy name of LB1161) made it possible for final approval to come solely from the governor’s office rather than through the Public Service Commission, much more involved process. It also allowed for “eminent domain,” a cryptic way of saying that land owned by others could be turned over to TransCanada for the pipeline’s use. Soon after the Supreme Court’s decision, TransCanada put eminent domain to good use by trying to get the last holdouts to turn their land over to the pipeline’s route, about 90 people in total. That’s what led some landowners to file their own lawsuits against TransCanada, challenging its right to eminent domain.

In the latest turnaround in this whole Keystone XL topsy-turvy process, a Nebraska district judge has put a stop to TransCanada’s plans to use eminent domain. Nebraska State District Court Judge Mark Kozisek issued a temporary injunction last week. A hearing had nearly 70 landowners calling on him to grant the injunction which now will remain in place until Nebraska’s Supreme Court looks at the landowners’ argument.

Of course, Congress is going to submit a bill to approve Keystone XL soon, but President Obama will almost definitely veto it. Will this fun never end?