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Is Keystone XL DOA in Term No. 2?

There are no more campaign promises to make -- and there's an incoming secretary of State who makes environmentalists hurrah.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

January 8, 2013 - 5:08 pm
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With the campaign and its associated vote-reaping rhetoric behind him, President Obama may now feel it’s time to kill the Keystone XL pipeline once and for all.

At least that’s what environmental groups are gunning for — and what Obama’s secretary of State nominee would be happy to do.

The Canada-to-Gulf pipeline cleared a major hurdle Friday when Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality issued a report finding that the pipeline’s route through the state would carry “minimal” risks to the environment.

Obama frequently used Nebraska’s concerns about the pipeline route as the reason for last year’s rejection of the project in the face of a congressional deadline. Now, the Republican governor of the state, Dave Heineman, has less than a month to make a final recommendation based on the report’s findings.

That includes noting Keystone XL will bring $418.1 million in economic benefits to the state and is expected to have no impact on water quality.

Heineman has been an opponent of the pipeline in the past, but a new route that addressed previous environmental concerns could have the White House scrambling for a new excuse.

TransCanada, the company behind Keystone, said it worked with Nebraskans to arrive at the solutions detailed in the approved report.

“The re-route ensures Keystone XL will have minimal environmental impact by avoiding the area defined as the Nebraska Sandhills, crossing fewer miles of threatened and endangered species habitat and considerably fewer miles of erodible soils. It also moves the route to the down-slope side of two wellhead protection areas,” said Russell Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer.

“Over the past year, support for Keystone XL has continued to grow in Nebraska and across the United States,” he added. “Safety remains our top priority. We will maintain a Nebraska-based emergency preparedness program with a response team in place, ready to react should an incident occur. The safety of the entire pipeline is our responsibility for as long as it operates. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously.”

More than 70 environmental groups, though, wrote Obama yesterday to urge that he take his responsibility to kill the pipeline seriously.

The green groups pointed out the president’s post-Sandy vows to tackle climate change in his second term.

“Climate change is not a hoax. More drought and floods and hurricanes and wildfires are not a joke,” Obama said just after his election in Chicago. “They’re a threat to our children’s future. And we can do something about it.”

The groups — including Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, the Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, and League of Conservation Voters — specifically urge the president to “use your executive authority” in enacting new regulations.

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