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  • Monday, December 3, 2012


    Obama pipeline decision may preview energy policy

    Josh Lederman, December 1, 2012 (AP via San Jose Mercury-News)

    “…[President Barack Obama’s] next move on a proposed oil pipeline between the U.S. and Canada may signal how he will deal with climate and energy issues…[He] is facing increasing pressure to determine the fate of the $7 billion Keystone XL project, with environmental activists and oil producers each holding out hope that the president, freed from the political constraints of re-election, will side with them…

    “On its surface, it's a choice between the promise of jobs and economic growth and environmental concerns. But it's also become a proxy for a broader fight over U.S. energy consumption and climate change…[Once content with delays,] opponents of Keystone XL have launched protests in recent weeks at the White House and in Texas urging Obama to kill the project outright. On Capitol Hill, support for the pipeline appears to be gaining…Obama has shown little urgency about the pipeline, which would carry crude oil about 1,700 miles from western Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries…”

    “…The pipeline requires State Department approval because it crosses an international boundary…[It was put] on hold while a plan was worked out to avoid routing it through Nebraska's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region…TransCanada, the company applying to build it, revised the route, but that caused the lengthy environmental review process to start over. In the meantime, the company split the project into two parts, which didn't require Obama's signoff, but he gave part of it his blessing in March anyway, irking environmental activists who see the pipeline as a slap to efforts to reduce oil consumption and fend off climate change.

    “…[I]n an otherwise highly polarized political climate, access to affordable energy has become a rare issue with bipartisan appeal…Many Democrats from states whose economies depend on oil support the pipeline. So do some trade unions, whose workers stand to gain thousands of new construction jobs…[Republicans] generally support the project…[but] in Texas, a deep-red state that normally embraces the oil industry, the project has drawn intense opposition from landowners who argue their property along the pipeline's route is being unfairly condemned. Their complaints have fostered an unlikely alliance with environmentalists.”


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