The seven-year process of decision making by the Obama administration regarding whether to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline came to an end today when the president rejected the plan over environmental concerns.
In announcing the decision, the president basically said “no big deal” as he lamented the partisan warfare that was waged over the project.
“All of this obscured the fact that this pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.”
Still, the president said, the pipeline would not do enough to create jobs, and he argued it would damage American energy security and “undercut” the country’s leadership on preventing climate change.
“The pipeline would not make a meaningful, long-term contribution to our economy,” he said.
Obama announced that he will join world leaders in Paris next month at an international climate change summit, where he hopes to broker a sweeping agreement to curb the man-made causes of global warming.
“We want to prevent the worst effects of climate change, and the time to act is now,” Obama said. “I’m optimistic about what we can accomplish together.”
Obama said he spoke on Friday morning to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who expressed disappointment about the Keystone decision.
Republicans on Capitol Hill reacted with fury to Obama’s announcement. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called it “sickening.”
“By rejecting this pipeline, the president is rejecting tens of thousands of good-paying jobs,” Ryan said.
“In the House, we are going to pursue a bold agenda of growth and opportunity for all.”
The rejection of Keystone delivers huge victory to environmental groups, who fought the project every step of the way, and a stinging defeat to Republicans and some Democrats on Capitol Hill, who had championed the pipeline’s potential job creation.
TransCanada Corp., the developer of the pipeline, this week had asked Obama to halt the State Department’s review of the project while Nebraska considered its proposed route. Granting the delay would have almost certainly pushed the decision to the next president.
But the State Department, which took the lead on reviewing the permit application, rejected TransCanada’s request. Kerry delivered his “final determination” to Obama in a Friday morning meeting before the announcement, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), a leading congressional proponent of Keystone, called it “ironic that after delaying construction for more than seven years — postponing the jobs, revenues and other benefits that would result from the project — the president now finds it pressing to make a decision just as the company is asking for a pause to resolve any concerns.”
TransCanada probably got wind that the decision was coming down and was hoping to delay approval until after a Republican got in the White House. Instead, the administration might have hurried the announcement to foreclose that avenue for the company.
The president has a partial point: some proponents vastly overstated the number of jobs that would be created — possibly as many as 15,000 — while climate hysterics believed it to be the end of the world.
In the end, the hysterics won out. And job growth will suffer because of it.