The US state department has denied a permit for the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline, that once constructed would transport dirty and climate killing tar sands from Canada to the US and other world markets. One of the world’s most prominent climate scientists, James Hansen has said that if the Canadian tar sands would be exploited as projected it would be “game over for the climate”.
But this rejection from the US state department is only a temporary setback for TransCanada, the developer, and not a definite “no” to the pipeline. As a result of a legislative standoff in 2011, where Republicans forced a final decision-deadline on the pipeline plan within 60 days, the state department didn’t have the time to do a full and proper investigation. And thus the Keystone XL pipeline was rejected by the state department.
President Barack Obama acknowledges this and blames the denied permit on the Republicans. According to Obama the rejection by the state department “is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline”:
“As the State Department made clear last month, 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.”
“I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it 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,” Obama said.
TransCanada has announced that they are “disappointed” by the outcome but that they are still “fully committed” to the Keystone XL pipeline project:
“This outcome is one of the scenarios we anticipated. While we are disappointed, TransCanada remains fully committed to the construction of Keystone XL. Plans are already underway on a number of fronts to largely maintain the construction schedule of the project,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer. “We will re-apply for a Presidential Permit and expect a new application would be processed in an expedited manner to allow for an in-service date of late 2014.”
Several Republicans have criticized Obama for the rejection of the pipeline. Mitt Romney, one of the front-runners in the 2012 Republican primary, have said the decision shows a “lack of seriousness” when it comes to bringing down unemployment in the US. “President Obama is about to destroy tens of thousands of American jobs,” a spokesman for Republican house speaker John Boehner said. And Republicans in Congress have proclaimed that they will try and put forward new legislation to push the Keystone XL pipeline project forward, the Guardian reports.
But it’s interesting to note that the US state department concluded in their report that the Keystone XL pipeline “is unlikely to have a substantial impact on U.S. employment” levels. The report also concludes that the pipeline would make little difference to economic activity, trade, energy security, or foreign policy over the longer term in the US. According to the report only around “5,000 to 6,000 direct construction jobs” would be created because of the Keystone XL pipeline. And these jobs “would last for the two years that it would take to build the pipeline”.
So we can now be sure on a couple of things. The Keystone XL pipeline has only been temporary stopped. TransCanada will re-apply, and most likely they will get their permit a couple of months after the presidential election. Barack Obama doesn’t acknowledge the dangerous effects the Keystone XL pipeline and tar sands will have on our environment and climate. He would gladly approve the pipeline project today, if that was possible. If constructed, the Keystone XL pipeline will only create a few thousands temporary jobs and it will not help the US reach energy independence or energy security. And if the tar sands are exploited, it would only result in the destruction of our climate.
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