Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline

by Laurent Cousineau
(Montreal)

On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, the President of the United States Barrack Obama rejected TransCanada's proposal to construct a 7 billion dollar oil pipeline that would link the oil sands of Alberta to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

This Canadian energy corporation's bid to build the Keystone XL Pipeline has enraged environmentalists for a long time and fueled major protests in front of the White House in August 2011.

Essentially, the tar sands of Alberta has destroyed pristine landscapes, caused more pollution than all Canadian cars combined and had dire effects on both animals and humans living in the surrounding regions. In addition, the proposed 1,700 mile (2,740 kilometer) pipeline would increase greenhouse gases and endanger American landscapes with massive oil spills. With the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, a giant pipeline across six states does not seem very reassuring.

In November, Obama has delayed his decision on the project. Later, due to a restricted deadline, the president was forced to make a formal decision on the both economic and environmental issue.

Administration officials declared that there was not enough time to run environmental reviews after the State Department ordered the project developer to find an alternate route in order to avoid ecologically sensitive areas of Nebraska.

"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," he said. “As a result, the secretary of state has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department's report, I agree."

Disappointed in the February 21 deadline forced by Congress controlled by the Republicans, he adds:
“This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people."

Although TransCanada claims that the project would create 20,000 jobs over two years, a State Department report reports that it would only create up to 6,000 temporary construction jobs.

Now, environmentalists celebrate as Obama is demonstrating America's move to build instead a more sustainable future. However, the project is still possible and another decision will be made in 2013.

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