[JURIST] President Barack Obama [official website] on Friday announced [press release] that he has rejected a request from a Canadian company to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The president cited climate change as the primary reason in which he is not allowing construction of the pipeline, which was proposed to be nearly 1,200 miles long and would transport approximately 800,000 barrels of petroleum a day from the Canadian oil sands to the Gulf coast. Obama stated:
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.
The announcement was made ahead of a major UN summit meeting on climate change that is to occur in December. Obama hopes [NY Times report] to broker an agreement between nations regarding changing policies to combat global warming.
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has generated significant controversy [JURIST report]. In March the US Senate on failed [JURIST report] to override President Barack Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act. Expansion [WP report] of the existing Keystone pipeline would allow for the transmission of 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from the tar sand producing regions of Alberta, Canada to refining facilities on the Gulf of Mexico. TransCanada [corporate website], the company seeking to build the pipeline, indicates [project website] that this development would support crude oil production in the Bakken Shale formation, which lies primarily in North Dakota and Montana, and that it is crucial to energy security in the US. Under US law, TransCanada must receive a permit from the US Department of State [official website] because the project crosses the US-Canada border. According to the State Department, Executive Order 13337 [text; PDF] grants the Secretary of State “the power to decide whether a project serves the national interest before granting a Presidential Permit.” If a presidential permit is granted, construction of the project can commence.