On Nov. 6, President Obama announced that he denied TransCanada’s proposal for the Keystone XL pipeline. The controversial, highly-speculated project, which would have extended from Alberta, Canada to Texas, was shut-out by the President after years of intense debate.
Reacting to TransCanada’s request to have their application review delayed by the State Department, Obama eliminated any doubt as to where he stood on one of the more lingering questions to his presidential legacy. Just a week before his decision, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced her opposition to the plan, following suit with other more liberal Democrats like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Under pressure from the environmental lobby, who claimed that the project would impede on land in the upper midwest and cause higher levels of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, Obama scuttled the project. The driving fear of several environmental scientists and activists alike was the potential impact of crashes, leaks or other structural challenges, especially considering its close proximity to the Ogallala Aquifer.
Obama’s decision to strike down the proposal came ahead of the U.N.-led climate change talks underway in Paris, where the U.S. is expected to persuade China, India and Russia to tackle the issue of climate change more seriously than they previously have.
The American Petroleum Institute, (API), a leading proponent of the project, issued a press release on the day of the decision criticizing the Obama administration.
“It’s ironic that the administration would strike a deal to allow Iranian crude onto the global market while refusing to give our closest ally, Canada, access to U.S. refineries,” Jack Gerard, API President and CEO, said. “This decision will cost thousands of jobs and is an assault to American workers. It’s politics at its worst.”
Republicans were also quick to criticize the decision as a mistake that will set back America’s energy independence and would have offered an economic boost to those in need of jobs. All of the 15 GOP presidential candidates lambasted Obama for catering to the green environmental activists instead of doing what would be most beneficial for the economy. Several have said that if elected, they will renew the process with TransCanada in 2017, not only for the project’s sake but also to shore up the relationship with recently-elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is in favor of the project.