Environmental euphoria: Obama vetoes Keystone XL pipeline

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck

President Barack Obama made good on his threat to veto the bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline on Tuesday, doing so just hours after it was officially sent to the White House.

According to NBC News, the White House said that the president opposes the bill, which would create an oil pipeline system that would run from Canada throughout much of the US and end in Texas, because it cuts short the State Department’s ongoing review of the proposal.

In his veto message, Obama said that the bill “attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.” He added that it “conflicts with established executive branch procedures” and “cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest.”

[STORY: Obama proposes 12-million-acre Alaskan wildlife refuge]

After receiving the president’s message, US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed that the Republican-led chamber would attempt to override the veto by March 3, according to Reuters. However, the GOP is currently four votes short of being able to do so, and has stated that they would attach language approving Keystone XL to a spending bill or another form of legislation later on this year that the president would find more difficult to veto.

A national embarrassment?

Republicans support the project because of its potential for job creation, and made passing a bill to fund it a priority following the November elections. However, critics of the pipeline (including President Obama) have doubts that it will create significant employment opportunities and have concerns about Keystone XL’s potential impact on the environment and climate change.

“The president’s veto of the Keystone jobs bill is a national embarrassment,” said Speaker of the House  John Boehner. “The president is just too close to environmental extremists to stand up for America’s workers. He’s too invested in left-fringe politics to do what presidents are called on to do, and that’s put the national interest first.”

[STORY: 50,000 gallons of oil spilled in Yellowstone River, officials say]

However, Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters (an organization that opposes the project) applauded Obama’s decision, telling Reuters that the veto, “along with the president’s increasing public skepticism about Keystone XL… makes us more confident than ever that (the) president will reject the permit itself once and for all.”

XL is a very appropriate description

The pipeline, which would be owned by TransCanada Corp., would carry an estimated 830,000 barrels a day of primarily Canadian oil sands crude to Nebraska en route to refineries and ports along the Gulf of Mexico. The project has been pending for six years, but was approved by the Senate in January and the House of Representatives earlier this month.

Keystone XL would be a 1,200-mile-long part of TransCanada’s existing 3,800-mile Keystone Pipeline network, and would the final portion of the project to be build, explained CNN.com. It currently runs through Canada, across the US boarder and into Illinois. The Keystone XL portion would take it through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

[STORY: Catastrophic Bangladesh oil spill endangers rare species, including tigers and dolphins]

The website also noted that the State Department previously concluded that the project was unlikely to cause an oil spill, stating that a Keystone XL proposal “would include processes, procedures, and systems to prevent, detect, and mitigate potential oil spills.” However, went on to report that the pipeline would have “little impact” on gas prices in the US.


Follow redOrbit on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, Instagram and Pinterest.