U.S. President Barack Obama rejected last Friday the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, arguing that the pipeline wouldn’t make any meaningful contribution to the U.S. economy.
“America’s now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership. And that’s the biggest risk we face — not acting,” President Obama said on the press conference.
The announcement, made in a press conference, is considered as a victory for environmentalists, who had been protesting against the deal project for more than seven years now. Moreover, it puts the U.S. Government in a strong position at the global climate talks that will start in Paris on November 30th.
The U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, advised the President before he took his final decision, saying that this pipeline deal didn’t help to the interests of the country, as it would decrease the U.S. ability to lead the worldwide battle against climate change.
Secretary of State John Kerry explained that the decision wasn’t made thinking only on the numbers —jobs created, fuel transported, or carbon pollution— but that they had to set an example, as they cannot ask other nations to make sacrifices if they don’t make their own sacrifices as well.
The seven-year-old proposal came to and end
The project, developed by TransCanada Corp’s, was supposed to deliver more than 800,000 barrels per day to the U.S. territory. Nevertheless, President Obama considers that it wouldn’t reduce gasoline prices and that receiving crude from Canada wouldn’t improve the U.S. energy security and independence.
However, since 2008, the U.S. has experienced a boom in the domestic drilling of the oil soil that has increased their production in an 80 percent, contributing to a decay of the U.S. oil prices from $100 to nearly $44.
The Canadian company required that the U.S. President gave permission for this cross-border deal in 2008, but soon the proposal provoked the rise of an important wave of protest and activism against it.
The Keystone XL oil pipeline would have transported crude from Alberta, Canada, to North Dakota, and then to refineries and Illinois and the Gulf of Mexico coast. TransCanada, as well as other oil companies, believed that the pipeline would have strengthened the U.S. energy security and that it would have created thousands of new jobs.
Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive, stated that he and the company were “disappointed”, as he said that “misplaced symbolism was chosen over merit and science,” referring to the protests against the deal. Nevertheless, he added that the company would review the decision although he didn’t make clear if they are going to take any legal actions or procedures, according to the Washington Post.
The company asked the Obama Administration last Monday to pause the review, seeking to postpone the decision until a new president was elected in 2017. However, all the U.S. democratic presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton, are opposed to this project —on the other hand, most Republican candidates are in favor.
350.org and his allies
When the proposal was filed in 2008, only one U.S. environmental group stood up against it: The Natural Resources Defense Council. Later, in July 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency formally challenged the State’s Department on the proposal. It wasn’t until 2011, that the 350.0rg appeared to organize a White House protest where more than 1,200 people were arrested in the course of two weeks.
Groups such as the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club also united 350.org to stood up against the process that involved the pipeline. The oil extracted from Alberta involved the heating of oil sands in order to extract thick bitumen —a viscous mixture of hydrocarbons, usually applied for road surfacing and roofing. This would mean emitting more greenhouse gases than conventional crude oil processes.
Bill McKibben, co-founder of the environmental group 350.org, converted Keystone into a symbol of a protest movement that stands for a slow global oil output. He stated that this was a big, historical win, that would set a precedent in the fossil fuel industry, according to Reuters.