In a Friday morning announcement from the White House, President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline project, citing climate concerns as the key rationale for the decision. TransCanada filed the application with the US State Department to build the $7.6 billion pipeline in September 2008. Thus with today’s announcement, the more-than-7 year review of the project has come to an end.
“An Over-Inflated Place” In National Discourse
Accompanied by Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden in the Roosevelt Room, Obama contextualized his decision to reject TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline project within the broader framework of his climate change agenda, saying that “approving Keystone would have undercut US global leadership in climate change.”
“Several years ago the State Department began a review process” of the Keystone pipeline…”Secretary Kerry informed me this morning that after extensive public outreach, the State Department has decided that the Keystone Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States. I support that decision.” He said further, “For years Keystone has occupied as over-inflated place in our political discourse.”
Here are reasons Obama articulated Friday morning for the State Department’s rejection of Keystone:
Keystone “would not make a meaningful contribution to the US economy, and wouldn’t have a serious impact on job creation.”
It “would not lower gas prices for American consumers…Gas prices have already been falling steadily.”
“Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security.”
Paving The Way For The Paris Climate Talks
Democrats have also recently been urging the president to reject the project ahead of major global climate talks in Paris next month. “For the decision to be pending doesn’t hurt. But making a decision — rejecting it — I think, sets a tone and an attitude about the seriousness of this nation and, more important, the commitment that the president is making here,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair, recently told The Hill.
TransCanada’s Appeal For Review Extension Denied
Earlier this week, TransCanada appealed for an extension of the State Department review of the project. This would have allowed the company to wait for the potential election of a Republican president next November. On Wednesday, the Department rejected this request. A Republican president could overturn this rejection, but due to the “environmentalist zeitgeist” likely to be further advanced at the upcoming UN climate talks, whether the next president would be able to successfully achieve this objective remains uncertain at present.
Obama has frequently said in recent years that Keystone would create few jobs and would not lower gasoline prices. Instead, he has argued, the project would exacerbate climate change.
What Keystone Would Have Been
The northern leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline would have transported as much as 830,000 bopd, mainly from Canada’s oil sands to Steele City, Nebraska. There, it would have linked with existing pipelines to refineries along the Gulf Coast. An estimated 100,000 barrels of that oil would have been sourced from North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation. Upon completion, the pipeline would have traversed 1,700 miles and would have crossed six states.
The proposed northern route of the Keystone XL Pipeline
Over the last couple of years, both advocates and opponents of the project have speculated that President Obama might simply choose to not render a final decision. Today’s announcement indicates that Obama ultimately decided a formal rejection could comprise a key component of his environmental legacy that also includes new regulations governing carbon emissions, hydraulic fracturing and water protection. Each of these new rules is currently being challenged in the courts.