On November 6, President Obama rejected the controversial crude oil pipeline that would stretch from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. The final decision came after years of public outreach, activism, and consultation. The Department of State advised the President that the pipeline proposal “would not serve the national interests of the United States” (NPR).
In September 2008, TransCanada filed for its first application to the State Department for the cross-border permit in order to build this crude oil pipeline, which would have been 1,179 miles long. TransCanada stated that this pipeline was critical for the security of the U.S. and would also strengthen America’s economy (TransCanada.com).
In 2011, the Department of State reported that the pipeline would cause further greenhouse gas emissions, and President Obama rejected the first TransCanada permit for the pipeline that same year. Although TransCanada applied for another permit in 2012, President Obama was hesitant to approve the pipeline since there was much debate, public outreach, and consultation from his advisors (Washington Journal).
Many environmentalists were in outrage as they believed that the pipeline would harm the environment. The oil that would have been transported would have been acquired through mining in the Alberta oil sands (NPR). This mixture of oil and sand would have then had to be put through a process that would emit more pollution into the atmosphere. Furthermore, there were concerns about how the pipeline would have been built, and worries about its threat to the ecosystem. There was also a major concern about the potential for an oil leak that would have further harmed the environment, but also would have cost billions of dollars to clean up. In opposition to some Democrats and environmentalists, TransCanada stated that the pipeline would contribute to the growth of crude oil production in the U.S. from Canada, and would allow Canadian and American oil producers greater access to refining markets throughout the American Midwest and near the Gulf Coast (TransCanada.com).
In rejection to the pipeline, President Obama further stated that the Keystone Pipeline issue played an “overinflated role” in political discourse (NPR). He stated that the Keystone Pipeline was used as a campaign tool for both parties because either claimed that it would be the sole path to climate disaster or would be the sole path to economic growth. Additionally, he stated that the pipeline would not be a long term benefit to the economy, and it would not create the jobs that TransCanada predicted for the short term or the long term. In fact, since then, job creation has risen and gas prices have decreased, and these goals were achieved without the creation of the pipeline.
Despite President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone Pipeline, the newly elected Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, stated that Canada and the U.S. will continue to work together on a variety of partnerships that will benefit the environment. As the world is transitioning to relying less on fossil fuels, President Obama stressed the importance of America leading the way in climate change by the improvement of domestic energy businesses and technologies, as well as the falling of energy prices by the U.S. cutting their total carbon pollutions in half. As this transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is a long term process, President Obama encourages the world to continue to make this transition for a cleaner and safer world for today and for the future.
-Jordon Lee ’16, Junior Politics/Opinions Editor