Business, Green

Upcoming Keystone XL Pipeline Decision for Obama

A proposed plan for building a massive oil pipeline, the Keystone XL, could reach President Obama’s desk by this summer. The pipeline would essentially split America in half and run through the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the world’s largest aquifers. Polls have shown that most Americans support the project’s approval, but there are also many critics.

Keystone XL protest
Protesters opposing the Keystone XL pipeline project.
Image: Steve Rhodes / Flickr CC

Despite a favorable environmental review from the State Department, critics are concerned about the inevitable spills that will occur. “It’s not a question of if, but when,” is the tagline of one recent ad campaign opposing the pipeline. Spills could contaminate the water supply for millions of Americans. If approved, Keystone XL would pump about 830,000 barrels of oil sands crude through America every day.

Besides posing a risk to the environment, the pipeline would ship oil overseas and potentially drive up oil prices in the Midwest. Proponents of the plan argue that the pipeline will be safe, providing lots of revenue and jobs for Americans. But many of those jobs would be temporary during construction of the pipeline, providing no direct benefit to everyday Americans looking for work.

But on Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criticized the State Department’s analysis of the project in a scathing report, saying the information provided was insufficient. The EPA argued that the project would increase U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 18.7 million metric tons of CO2 per year. The State Department’s report argued that the oil would be sent out either way, so whether or not America taps into that revenue or not would make little difference environmentally.

The negative report from the EPA was welcomed heartily by environmentalists around the country fighting to make their voices heard and the pipeline denied. President Obama will likely face the decision while America remains divided.

“We put him in the White House because we thought he was the best chance of really making progress on the issue of climate,” said Courtney Hight of the Sierra Club in an episode of Power Players. “He’s strongly said that he wants to do something… and this is one of his best opportunities to actually follow through.”

Hight knows it is an uphill battle to win over Americans, the White House, and the President; however, she still believes Obama will make the right decision in the end and reject the Keystone XL proposal.

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