President Obama Nixes Keystone XL

President Barack Obama announces Keystone XL ain't happening. Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry listen. Screen cap from C-Span, 2015.11.06.
President Barack Obama announces Keystone XL ain’t happening. Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry listen. Screen cap from C-Span, 2015.11.06.

Mr. President! Good darn call!

After maybe a few too many years of deliberation, President Barack Obama came to the conclusion to which Dakota Rural Action and other patriotic Americans have been urging since before he became President: the Keystone XL pipeline would not serve our national interest. This morning, upon receiving Secretary of State John Kerry’s final recommendation to that effect, President Obama says he is denying TransCanada a permit to build Keystone XL.

Here, for the record and for our celebration is the President’s full speech, a brilliantly clear, point-by-point takedown of this unnecessary project, followed by a positive roadmap for American leadership on energy and the environment, as transcribed by the White House, via Newsweek, with hyperlinks to this blog’s past coverage on Keystone XL:

Good morning, everybody.  Several years ago, the State Department began a review process for the proposed construction of a pipeline that would carry Canadian crude oil through our heartland to ports in the Gulf of Mexico and out into the world market.

This morning, Secretary Kerry informed me that, after extensive public outreach and consultation with other Cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States.  I agree with that decision.

This morning, I also had the opportunity to speak with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada.  And while he expressed his disappointment, given Canada’s position on this issue, we both agreed that our close friendship on a whole range of issues, including energy and climate change, should provide the basis for even closer coordination between our countries going forward.  And in the coming weeks, senior members of my team will be engaging with theirs in order to help deepen that cooperation.

Now, for years, the Keystone Pipeline has occupied what I, frankly, consider an overinflated role in our political discourse.  It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter.  And all of this obscured the fact that this pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.

To illustrate this, let me briefly comment on some of the reasons why the State Department rejected this pipeline.

First:  The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy.  So if Congress is serious about wanting to create jobs, this was not the way to do it.  If they want to do it, what we should be doing is passing a bipartisan infrastructure plan that, in the short term, could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year as the pipeline would, and in the long run would benefit our economy and our workers for decades to come.

Our businesses created 268,000 new jobs last month. They’ve created 13.5 million new jobs over the past 68 straight months—the longest streak on record. The unemployment rate fell to 5 percent. This Congress should pass a serious infrastructure plan, and keep those jobs coming. That would make a difference. The pipeline would not have made a serious impact on those numbers and on the American people’s prospects for the future.

Second: The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers. In fact, gas prices have already been falling—steadily. The national average gas price is down about 77 cents over a year ago.  It’s down a dollar over two years ago. It’s down $1.27 over three years ago. Today, in 41 states, drivers can find at least one gas station selling gas for less than two bucks a gallon. So while our politics have been consumed by a debate over whether or not this pipeline would create jobs and lower gas prices, we’ve gone ahead and created jobs and lowered gas prices.

Third: Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security. What has increased America’s energy security is our strategy over the past several years to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world.  Three years ago, I set a goal to cut our oil imports in half by 2020.  Between producing more oil here at home, and using less oil throughout our economy, we met that goal last year — five years early.  In fact, for the first time in two decades, the United States of America now produces more oil than we buy from other countries.

Now, the truth is, the United States will continue to rely on oil and gas as we transition—as we must transition—to a clean energy economy.  That transition will take some time.  But it’s also going more quickly than many anticipated.  Think about it. Since I took office, we’ve doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas by 2025; tripled the power we generate from the wind; multiplied the power we generate from the sun 20 times over.  Our biggest and most successful businesses are going all-in on clean energy.  And thanks in part to the investments we’ve made, there are already parts of America where clean power from the wind or the sun is finally cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.

The point is the old rules said we couldn’t promote economic growth and protect our environment at the same time. The old rules said we couldn’t transition to clean energy without squeezing businesses and consumers. But this is America, and we have come up with new ways and new technologies to break down the old rules, so that today, homegrown American energy is booming, energy prices are falling, and over the past decade, even as our economy has continued to grow, America has cut our total carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.

Today, the United States of America is leading on climate change with our investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.  America is leading on climate change with new rules on power plants that will protect our air so that our kids can breathe.  America is leading on climate change by working with other big emitters like China to encourage and announce new commitments to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.  In part because of that American leadership, more than 150 nations representing nearly 90 percent of global emissions have put forward plans to cut pollution.

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 global leadership.  And that’s the biggest risk we face—not acting.

Today, we’re continuing to lead by example.  Because ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.

As long as I’m President of the United States, America is going to hold ourselves to the same high standards to which we hold the rest of the world.  And three weeks from now , I look forward to joining my fellow world leaders in Paris, where we’ve got to come together around an ambitious framework to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can.

If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now.  Not later.  Not someday.  Right here, right now.  And I’m optimistic about what we can accomplish together.  I’m optimistic because our own country proves, every day—one step at a time—that not only do we have the power to combat this threat, we can do it while creating new jobs, while growing our economy, while saving money, while helping consumers, and most of all, leaving our kids a cleaner, safer planet at the same time.

That’s what our own ingenuity and action can do.  That’s what we can accomplish.  And America is prepared to show the rest of the world the way forward.

Thank you very much [President Barack Obama, speech, The White House, 2015.11.06].

Dakota Rural Action was helping landowners defends themselves against TransCanada’s eminent domain lawsuits for the pipeline route before other environmental activists even knew how to spell Keystone XL. What does DRA have to say?

“As a property owner in South Dakota, and who was coerced into a settlement agreement through eminent domain, I am deeply grateful for the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline,’ says John Harter, Dakota Rural Action Vice Chair and a landowner crossed by the former proposed Keystone XL route.

“South Dakota landowners have been fighting TransCanada in their use of eminent domain for over seven years now. Dakota Rural Action has organized landowners who are against the Keystone XL and Dakota Rural Action has allied with like-minded groups in North Dakota, Montana, and Nebraska. Dakota Rural Action has also worked closely with native grassroots groups as well as various South Dakota tribal councils to stop the Keystone XL. Building the Keystone XL has always been a bad idea and we are thankful that President Obama has realized this. Grassroots groups have been the boots and moccasins on the ground in this fight. Never again will a company such as TransCanada so seriously underestimate the power of grassroots opposition,” says Dakota Rural Action member and landowner crossed by the former route Paul Seamans. “Thank you President Obama. Let the celebrations begin.”

Celebrations will be held across the state Saturday evening; more information can be found on Dakota Rural Action’s Facebook page: [Dakota Rural Action, press release, 2015.11.06].

Senator John Thune ignores property rights, the environment, and the national interest and whines at this snubbing of his oily corporate cronies:

“I would say that I’m surprised, but with President Obama’s commitment to appeasing the far-left environmental wing of his political base, today’s decision is par for the course,” said Sen. John Thune. “The Obama administration has spent seven years delaying this common-sense project. It has reviewed thousands of public comments and completed five environmental impact statements — all of which found the pipeline would have no significant impact on the environment. The pipeline would immediately support thousands of shovel-ready jobs during construction, including 3,000-4,000 in South Dakota alone. The only explanation for today’s decision is that the administration has squeezed from this project’s unnecessary delay every last bit of political expediency that remained” [“Obama Kills Keystone Pipeline,” AP via Black Hills Pioneer, 2015.11.06].

Denial is a river of tears running from John Thune’s office. Keystone XL is no longer a river of accident waiting happen taking away South Dakota’s land and water security for the profit of a foreign corporation. Rock on, President Obama! Every lame-duck President should do this much good.

Update 16:33 CST: Here’s the video of the President’s speech from the White House:

25 Responses to President Obama Nixes Keystone XL

  1. larry kurtz

    It’s time to stop Dakota Access, too. “America has built the equivalent of 10 Keystone pipelines since 2010 — and nobody said anything.”

  2. larry kurtz

    It’s important to remember that the glut of oil on the market is designed to keep Russia as weak as the US can maker her.

  3. Paul Seamans

    Thank you President Obama. I say this as a registered Republican rancher who, according to fellow Jones County resident John Thune,is of the far left environmental wing.

  4. Daniel Buresh

    This is nothing more than political pandering and Obama trying to save face. The project is dead until oil prices rise. Transcanada basically gave up on the project in Sept. He knows that so no sense letting it go to waste. The end result will be a direct line to china on leaky ships. If this was really about the environment, he wouldn’t approve TPP and Arctic Shelf drilling. Meanwhile, we continue to import tar sands oil from Venezuela. As Larry said, since then, we’ve already built 10 others.

  5. larry kurtz

    John Thune is on the far right wing of the Netanyahu Party.

  6. Donald Pay

    Who comes up with these statements for Thune? It reads like a Larry Pressler from back in the late 1990s. Republicans are always harkening back to a by-gone era. Their rhetoric seems to be stuck, like an old record player that many of discarded years ago.

    Thune gave us this twist on a decades old gem: “…appeasing the far-left environmental wing of his political base.” That one has been recycled with a slight update from the Clinton-era. Pressler used “radical environmentalists.” I guess there has been new focus groups from the oil industry where Thune gets all his latest ideas that indicated the term “far left environmental wing” projected a worse boogey man image than “radical environmentalist.”

    There is always the issue with delay for Thune and the Republicans. “The Obama administration has spent seven years delaying….” Yet, Thune and his party asked for lots of delays on Obama care, and every other thing Obama has wanted to do. Oh, I forgot, Thune wasn’t asked Obama to delay the deep borehole disposal project. Making South Dakota a radioactive waste sacrifice area is not something Thune and Obama have in common. But getting back to Keystone, it was TransCanada, who asked for another delay when they got wind that this decisions was coming. Thune ought to praise Obama for not delaying the decision any further.

    I absolutely love this Presslerism: “…common-sense project.” Ugh. How many times did we hear common-sense from Pressler.

    Pressler seems to have reverted back to his younger, more moderate, less DC-centrict self. That’s good. it took a defeat for him to do that. I hope South Dakotans get the opportunity to turn Thune from a recycled 90s DC pol, back into a human being.

  7. Daniel is kind of correct. If a republican or some Democrat other than Bernie gets into office, the Kochs may come back to this. However, as long as Iran keeps doing what they are doing, that dirty oil from Canada can stay in the ground. Tehran John can go pound sand. Take a look at the jobs report that was released today, unemployment is at the lowest levels before W. Takes the wind out of the sail for needing this black snake for employment necessity. If this had passed, the only workers available would have been Syrians.

  8. Paul Seamans

    Daniel Buresh, the goal of Keystone XL opponents has never been to simply stop the KXL. The goal is to stop the destructive mining of tarsands oil. Already tarsands projects in Alberta have been put on hold because the oil companies are not able to get their product to market because of lack of pipeline capacity. Stop the pipelines and you slow, or stop, the development of tarsands projects.

  9. mike from iowa

    Obama ain’t been impeached,yet?

  10. “So while our politics have been consumed by a debate over whether or not this pipeline would create jobs and lower gas prices, we’ve gone ahead and created jobs and lowered gas prices.” This would’ve been the perfect place for Barry to drop the microphone!

  11. Wait, Daniel, so now you agree with me that there’s no business case for Keystone XL? That’s nice.

    Flipper, you identified the sharpest line of the whole speech. Keystone XL is the headline, but that line should be replayed all weekend for a broader debate on John Thune’s failure, and the failure of the Republican Congress as a whole, to offer any real solutions.

  12. Obama is exactly correct on the ridiculously overblown employment projections from the advocates and the exaggerated claims of environmentalists that use of KXL’s bitumen sludge would make climate change irreparable. I agree with his key points, but I think he should have emphasized the track record of the first Keystone line for leaks and damages, and the major spills in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and in Montana. Pumping that sludge at higher pressures and temperatures is much more risky than piping conventional crude. What was insane was running the line over the top of the Ogallala aquifer, which is North America’s largest aquifer and a major source of water between Texas and South Dakota. If the dopes still can’t clean the Kalamazoo River spill on the earth’s surface five years later, it’s completely nuts to think a clean up of an aquifer the dimensions and dynamics of the Ogallala is even possible.

  13. mike from iowa

    but,but everybody knows Obama is a lying Kenyan Muslim who is out to take Trans-Canada’s guns away from ’em.

  14. congrats and thank you for your effort, Paul!

  15. Thune, Mike, And Noem.The sky is falling.The sky is falling.

  16. New Canadian PM Justin Trudeau had to be for Keystone XL as a candidate, but his “oh – well XL” statement today in which he spoke as much about Canadians doing their part to slow climate change calls into question whether he was really for the pipeline.

    A couple weeks ago Trudeau actually gave Pres. Obama a rationale for killing XL. Trudeau said Canada is much too beautiful and pristine to run a tar sands pipeline across it to the Pacific. The natural response from an American President should be, “It’s your damn bitumen. If your country is too good for a pipeline why should we take it?” The old slogan in Alaska is, “Prudhoe Bay pumps. Valdez sucks.” Canada can find its own Valdez.

  17. Meanwhile at press release blog they have 6, yes 6, cut-and-paste posts about this with no original content.

  18. mike from iowa

    Obama trying to save face from what-Keystone Kopp Wingnuts? My sinator Grassley is mad as heck at the Pentagon for building a natural gas plant in Afghanistan and wasting millions of dollars in cost overruns. Not a word said about the trillions wingnuts wasted,not to mention all the deaths,incurred because a little unelected pissant from Texas thought it would be neat to start two unwinnable wars.

  19. Porter Lansing

    Proud Member of Far-Left Environmental Wing since 1970.

  20. mike from iowa

    but don’t trees cause acid rain?

  21. Paul Seamans

    leslie, thank you for the compliment. The KXL denial shows the power of grassroots organizing.

    Thune/Rounds/Noem are repeating the tired and debunked claims out of TransCanada’s playbook. 3000 jobs in South Dakota alone from building the KXL; $20 million in new tax revenue every year, reduced dependence on oil from countries that would harm us. Hopefully we won’t have to hear these lies for a while now.

  22. Don Coyote

    It’s all moot anyway since Enbridge Energy was able to do an end run on the permitting process by increasing the pipe size of their Alberta Clipper pipeline and building inter-connector pipelines allowing them to pump 800,000 barrels of Canadian heavy crude per day, the equivalent of Keystone XL. Also unit trains out of Canada will increase which ironically will increase the carbon footprint of Canadian crude because of the increase use of fuel for transport.

  23. good catch coyote. some are only lifting their heads now to EB5. a tar sands rupture is in our future. and, enbridge says this tar sands diversion to the gulf is only temporary (e.g all for “show” unless rounds succeeds in dismantling EPA!:).

    from your “not so moot” cite:

    On the evening of Sunday July 25, 2010, at approximately 5:58 p.m., a 4-foot- long pipe segment in Line 6 B, located approximately 0.6 miles downstream of the Marshall, Michigan, pump station ruptured. The Line 6 B is owned and operated by Enbridge Energy Inc. …

    The accident resulted in an Enbridge reported release of 20,082 barrels (843,444 gallons) of crude oil. … The rupture location is a high consequence area within a mostly rural, wet, and low-lying region. The released oil pooled in a marshy area before flowing 700 feet south into Talmadge Creek, which ultimately carried it into the Kalamazoo River.

    NTSB investigators found that technicians working at Enbridge’s control center in Alberta did not respond to the spill and activate remote-control valves until nearly 17 hours after the pipe ruptured.

    According to related testimony at a September 15, 2010, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing, 13 alarms in the control center had been ignored or misinterpreted. Enbridge technicians in Alberta were informed of the spill by a utility worker from another company who called from Marshall, Michigan.

    The late Jim Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat who chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s September 2010 hearing, stated that Enbridge had requested a two-and-a-half-year extension from the Department of Transportation to repair 329 defects, of which the company had been aware for two years.

    Oberstar also said that inspections Enbridge conducted in 2005, 2007 and 2009 had detected a defect in the pipe that ruptured at Marshall. No repair was made because in the company’s judgment, the problem did not reach the repair criteria defined by the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA).

    None of this information, Oberstar said, had been provided to members of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazmat, when at an earlier hearing they questioned an Enbridge executive about pipeline integrity and spill-detection. That hearing, as it turned out, was held exactly 10 days before the Kalamazoo spill.

  24. All right, then, Don, just so we’re clear: since Keystone XL is moot, Senator Thune’s criticism of the President is meaningless, right? President Obama saved South Dakota property owners from eminent domain and saved our water and land from increased risk of oil spills by rejecting a useless pipeline, right?

  25. mike from iowa

    So that was 2 years ago Coyote. Is it a done deal by the middle of 2015?