President Barack Obama admittedly ticked off some people after failing to allow the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline project to move forward – people like the unemployed and Canada, which now could become less dependent on the United States. But along with Obama’s enemies have come several new friends – those of the “green” persuasion – who couldn’t be more elated about the American leader’s decision to protect almost 2,000 miles of land in the United States from an environmental disaster.
“We feel like this is a huge victory,” said Liz Barratt-Brown, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, of Obama’s pipeline decision. “It really is. Given that this is a project that the oil industry put every ounce of their money lobbying effort into, in coordination with the Canadian government, it really is an amazing outcome. We’ll see what happens now, but effectively Keystone XL as we’ve known it is dead.”
For green proponents, Obama’s decision is a welcome breath of fresh air after the government in the past allowed drilling to expand in the Gulf of Mexico and got rid of smog regulations – decisions with which members of the green movement weren’t quite pleased.
Republicans in late 2011 had included a rider with a payroll tax bill requiring that a decision be made within 60 days regarding the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline project. However, officials decided that more information was necessary to make a legitimate decision and that 60 days was not an adequate amount of time to study whether other routes through Nebraska were solid pipeline possibilities.
“I think this is the high water mark of the president’s relationship with the environmental community,” Bill, an environmentalist who led efforts opposing the pipeline, said of Obama.
The question now is whether Obama actually will approve a version of the pipeline project proposal after the November 2012 election, if Obama is re-elected. Either way, opponents have made themselves very loud and clear since Keystone XL pipeline protests began in August 2011 at the White House and public meetings were held last fall. And the fight will continue in an effort to protect vulnerable land from the threat of damaging oil spills, such as the history- making ones that have plagued Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.
“The reality is any pipeline proposal that is made will meet similar scrutiny,” Barratt-Brown said. “It’s a huge blow. We know that today is one day.”
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