Obama Blocks Oil Pipeline from Neighboring Canada

Published February 5, 2012

President Barack Obama has denied a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would deliver up to 900,000 barrels of oil per day from neighboring Canada to American refineries. Although the federal government has been studying the proposed pipeline since 2008, Obama said a congressionally imposed February 21 deadline to approve or reject the proposal did not allow the government enough time to make an informed decision.

Longer Than World War II
“This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people,” said Obama in a press statement accompanying his decision.

Pipeline supporters noted tens of thousands of jobs would have been created during construction of the pipeline. They argued the federal government had plenty of time to evaluate the pipeline and approve the shovel-ready project.

“We fought and won World War II in less time than it’s taken so far to evaluate this project,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), chastising a State Department official sent to explain Obama’s decision to the Energy and Power subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “I mean, with all due respect, it is an insult to the American people to say that you need more time.”

Future Uncertain
China has indicated it would be happy to purchase the oil TransCanada proposes to send to the United States via the pipeline. TransCanada chief executive Russ Girling continued to hold out hope Obama would change his mind or a new administration would approve the project.

“While we are disappointed, TransCanada remains fully committed to the construction of Keystone XL,” said Girling in a press statement.

Clear National Interest
Daniel Simmons, director of regulatory and state affairs for the Institute for Energy Research, took issue with Obama’s claim that he needed to protect the American people from the pipeline. 

“Building and operating the Keystone XL pipeline will undoubtedly create jobs and provide the United States with more oil from our closest ally. How could that not be in the national interest?” Simmons asked. “It is clearly in the national interest to get more oil from Canada instead of less reliable countries.”

“There is no conceivable reason, other than pure politics, that it has taken President Obama over three years to ponder whether getting more oil from Canada is in the national interest,” Simmons explained.     

“Thousands of miles of pipeline already crisscross the Keystone XL region,” Simmons added. “Adding one with state-of-the-art technology improves rather than detracts from environmental safety in the region.”

Alyssa Carducci ([email protected]) writes from Tampa, Florida.