With another hurdle removed for the Keystone XL pipeline, opponents are pressing lawsuits challenging the project, plus public protests and campaigns to inject the issue into the 2014 elections.
Supporters and opponents are both claiming victories with the U.S. State Department report released Friday, which raised no major objections to the pipeline. The report says Canadian tar sands are likely to be developed regardless of U.S. action on the pipeline and other options to get the oil from western Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries are worse for the environment. The proposed pipeline route would pass through Nebraska.
State Department approval of the project is needed because it crosses a U.S. border. A decision is not expected before summer.
The oil industry, some union groups and congressional Republicans called on President Obama to move forward with the project while a coalition of landowners and environmentalists say the president still has wiggle room to deny a federal permit.
Meanwhile, farmers and ranchers in Nebraska are planning to run for seats on a state board that would regulate power stations for the pipeline. And national activists say more than 75,000 volunteers are willing to participate in civil disobedience.
Five years after the pipeline's backers first asked the Obama administration for approval, the project remains in limbo, stuck in a complex permitting process that has enabled Obama to put off what will inevitably be a politically explosive decision.
Keystone has become a proxy for the broader battle over energy-versus-environment. So Mr. Obama's decision will have an outsized impact on his environmental legacy. The president has launched a push to try to curb global warming.
Sen. Mike Johanns
U.S. Senator Mike Johanns urged President Obama to swiftly approve the Keystone XL pipeline after the environmental analysis was released by the State Department.
“Studies have confirmed that this project will have little to no impact on our environment. What it will impact is our economy by creating construction jobs and supplying energy sources from a friendly neighbor. It’s clear that this project is in the best interest of our country and should be approved. In his State of the Union Address, President Obama touted an all-of-the-above energy strategy and said we need to streamline projects as a way to strengthen our economy. Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline is his chance to act on both of these important goals and back up his flowery words with real, tangible action. Nebraska, the State Department and TransCanada have all done their part; it’s time for the President to step up.”
Rep. Lee Terry
“After over five years, President Obama is out of excuses. There is no question that moving forward with Keystone XL is in our national interest. This is an opportunity for the president to do more than just talk about 'an all-of-the-above energy strategy.' It's an opportunity for him to show leadership by using his pen to take meaningful action that is long overdue. It would be a disgrace to allow extreme ideologues to obstruct this critical project that will create jobs and help us down the path of energy security.”
Rep. Adrian Smith
“The State Department has once again confirmed the Keystone pipeline would be safe and in the best interest of our nation. Protecting the natural resources of Nebraska and our nation has always been a key factor in considering this project. With today’s technology we can transport energy safely while protecting our environment. With the environmental review now complete, it’s time to move forward with this project, which would improve our energy security, create jobs and spur economic growth. I encourage the president to follow the science and facts and approve this project.”