Obama Environment Speech: President Will Probably Approve Keystone XL


During his speech on climate change at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama stated that he would ask the State Department not to approve construction of the 1200-mile Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast, unless it can be prooved that the pipeline will not cause a net increase in greenhouse gas emission. The president's announcements come as part of his second term goals to reduce carbon emissions, but if studies show that the pipeline will not cost the environment greatly, Obama has said that its construction could beneficially serve U.S. interests.

Environmental activists have passionately opposed the construction of the pipeline in the past several months, starting from grassroots movements that have vehemently expressed their concerns with the pipeline's carbon emission effects. In February, over 40,000 environmentalists marched upon Washington in order to protest the pipeline's approval, urging Obama to stop the project's construction. Recently, these groups have begun to pressure the OFA into taking a stand on the pipeline rather than remaining silent on the matter and nearly 150 Obama campaign staffers have already signed an open letter asking the president to reject the pipeline.

However, Obama has not specifically made clear what qualifications are necessary for the Keystone XL to be deemed ecological acceptable. By leaving this open-ended, the president has asserted that environmental concerns will be major factors in the eventual decision on whether or not the pipeline will be passed in September or October. "The net effects of the pipeline's impact on our climate will be absolutely critical in determining whether this project will be allowed to go forward," Obama said during his Georgetown speech.

According to a draft study conducted by the Keystone XL project, the building of the pipeline itself shouldn't dramatically increase emissions, but the development of oil sands crudes could result in "incremental GHG emissions." This would appear to imply that the project will be rejected, but the EPA went on to object to the findings in the draft study and has now decided that the environmental impact that the pipeline's construction would have should be almost insignificant.

This has led many to believe that the pipeline may eventually be approved by the White House, as the State Department's conclusions have indicated low environmental impact. Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, has even said, "Based on the lengthy review by the State Department, construction of the pipeline would not have a significant environmental impact. It's time to sign off on Keystone and put Americans to work."

Therefore, even if the ecological standards that Obama is asking for are not met, the State Department appears satisfied with its findings and there is a good chance that the Keystone XL project will be given the green light come September.