By Keith Reid

President Obama announced on November 6 that he was formally rejecting the Keystone Pipeline. Not really a surprise, since the Administration has consistently talked about having an open mind on the pipeline, particularly during previous elections cycles, but has always managed to oppose the pipeline when circumstances forced action. For example, HERE,where Obama weakly blamed this previous veto on congressional “procedural” issues.

The timing of this announcement is undoubtedly to enhance Obama’s image before the upcoming Paris climate talks. As Obama said in his announcement: “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change, and frankly, approving this project would have undercut that leadership.”

If history is any indication, the talks will go nowhere as the developing world fights over how big a check the Western economies must write to appease their requests for climate justice, while China and India (the nations most impacting long-term carbon production) ignore any commitments of substance. They have more nationally-focused energy policies that values jobs and economic growth.

As we previously covered, even if you believe in the hardly settled science on human influenced climate change, rejecting the Keystone serves no environmental purpose while costing the United States jobs. As we outlined in much greater detail HERE, Canada will process the tar sands, the bitumen will be shipped to a useful location, it will be processed into fuels (perhaps in a less environmentally responsible manner than in the US) and that fuel will be burned. Net win… somebody else.

It should be noted that Canada might wait out the current administration, in which case the future of the pipeline is still up in the air. As previously was the case, the responses to this formal announcement broke along traditional lines.

 

The Oil Industry

API President and CEO Jack Gerard said the president’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline is a clear example of politics coming before the interests of U.S. workers and consumers.

“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,” said Gerard. “This decision will cost thousands of jobs and is an assault to American workers. It’s politics at its worst.“Unfortunately for the majority of Americans who have said they want the jobs and economic benefits Keystone XL represents, the White House has placed political calculations above sound science. Seven years of review have determined the project is safe and environmentally sound, yet the administration has turned its back on Canada with this decision and on U.S. energy security as well.”

 

Labor

Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – made the following statement today regarding the Administration’s decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline.

President Obama today demonstrated that he cares more about kowtowing to green-collar elitists than he does about creating desperately needed, family-supporting, blue-collar jobs. After a seven-year circus of cowardly delay, the President’s decision to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline is just one more indication of an utter disdain and disregard for salt-of-the-earth, middle-class working Americans. The politics he has played with their lives and livelihoods is far dirtier than oil carried by any pipeline in the world, and the cynical manipulation of the approval process has made a mockery of regulatory institutions and government itself. We are dismayed and disgusted that the President has once again thrown the members of LIUNA, and other hard-working, blue-collar workers under the bus of his vaunted “legacy,” while doing little or nothing to make a real difference in global climate change. His actions are shameful.

In its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement Keystone XL Project Executive Summary, issued in January 2014, President Obama’s own State Department concluded that building the Keystone XL “is unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction in oil sands.”[1] Worse, reviewing the impact of not building the Keystone XL, the same report concluded that, “the total annual GHG emissions (direct and indirect) attributed to the No Action scenarios range from 28 to 42 percent greater than for the [Keystone XL].”[2] But facts apparently mean as little to the President as the construction jobs he repeatedly derided as insignificant because they are “temporary.” Ironically, the very temporary nature of the President’s own job seems to be fueling a legacy of doing permanent harm to middle- and working class families.

From this decision on the Keystone XL, to the attack on quality healthcare through the so-called “Cadillac Tax,” to his efforts to ship good jobs overseas through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Barack Obama’s disdain for working people is evident. The President may be celebrated by environmental extremists, but with this act, President Obama has also solidified a legacy as a pompous, pandering job killer.

 

Greens

NRDC’s Suh Hails His “Courageous leap forward in climate fight” President Obama today rejected the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline—for all the right reasons. The following is a statement by Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“This represents a courageous leap forward in the climate fight. Rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is right for our nation, for our children and for our planet. It would have locked in, for a generation or more, massive development of among the dirtiest fuels on the planet – posing a serious threat to our air, land water, and climate. The proposal, pushed largely by the fossil fuel industry, was a recipe for disaster. In no way was the pipeline in America’s national interest.

“Dangerous climate change is the central environmental challenge of our time, and it’s time for everyone to step up now and meet that challenge.”

 

Actor and Environmentalist Robert Redford Reacts to Keystone XL Rejection

Natural Resources Defense Council trustee Robert Redford reacted to President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline with thanks to all involved in the fight today. The following is a statement from the long-time environmental activist with deep involvement in the campaign against the pipeline:

“Today marks a huge turning point in our fight to leave a better future for our children and generations to come. People all over the country banded together to demand a stop to this short-sighted, destructive fossil fuel project. Thank you, to the President and all those who rallied against the pipeline.”

Editor’s Note: Robert Redford, between his mansions and private jet travel, has a carbon footprint that would likely put a small town to shame.