The following article is from USA Today:
by Aamer Madhani and Wendy Koch
WASHINGTON — The State Department announced on Thursday that it will explore a new route for the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, pushing a final decision on the controversial project past the 2012 election.
President Obama was under intense political pressure from environmentalists as well as Republicans over the $7 billion pipeline project that would cut through six U.S. states.
Obama framed the decision as one that was based on a desire to make sure “all the potential impacts are properly understood,” and White House officials insisted the decision was made by the State Department.
“Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment and because a number of concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood,” Obama said in a statement.
Republicans, who said the Canada-to-Texas pipeline would have created thousands of jobs and would reduce U.S. dependence on Middle East oil, immediately slammed the decision and said Obama was caving to his political base.
“More than 20,000 new American jobs have just been sacrificed in the name of political expediency,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “By punting on this project, the president has made clear that campaign politics are driving U.S. policy decisions — at the expense of American jobs.”
The State Department listed 14 other route alternatives in its final environmental impact statement issued in August, but had dismissed all of them. Five of those alternative routes would have minimized the pipeline length over Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer and the Sand Hills region or avoided them entirely. Several GOP lawmakers from Nebraska — including Sen. Mike Johanns— had opposed the proposed route, fearing a leak could put the region’s water supply at risk.
Johanns cheered the decision to explore a new route but said the State Department’s estimate that it will take until early 2013 to complete the required environmental review and public comment period “looks suspiciously political.”
The decision to look for a new route was made by the State Department, said Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
“The White House did not have anything to do with this decision,” she said.
TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said he remains confident the pipeline will ultimately be approved, but the decision “could have potential negative ramifications, especially where shippers and U.S. refiners are concerned.
“Supplies of heavy crude from Venezuela and Mexico to U.S. refineries will soon end,” Girling said. “If Keystone XL is continually delayed, these refiners may have to look for other ways of getting the oil they need.”
Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of international programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the environmentalists would continue to push for the administration to abandon the pipeline project altogether. But for now, environmentalists are pleased with the president.
“The president in doing this is taking a very courageous stand,” she said. “He and his administration were under enormous pressure to approve this pipeline.”
Source: USA Today
Posted by Haylie Shipp