Thursday, January 19, 2012

Short Sharp Science - Obama rejects controversial Keystone oil pipeline

US president Barack Obama has rejected plans for a vast oil pipeline reaching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, The Washington Post is reporting.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been criticised by environmentalists, but promoted by Republicans because they argue it would create jobs.
Canadian energy infrastructure firm, TransCanada had applied for a permit to build the pipeline. It would ferry bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. Environmentalists cited the enormous greenhouse gas emissions from the fuel that would be produced, as well as the risk to the sensitive ecosystem of the Nebraska Sandhills, through which the pipeline was planned to pass.
Last November the government announced a new environmental review of the project, delaying the final decision until 2013 - after the upcoming presidential election. However, late last year Republicans forced the government to make a decision within 60 days.
The rejection is not final - TransCanada will have the opportunity to reapply for a permit to build the pipeline along a route that avoids the Sandhills region. Still, Republicans - including US presidential candidate Mitt Romney - have reacted by excoriating Obama for his decision.
By turning down the permit, Romney said "the president demonstrates a lack of seriousness about bringing down unemployment, restoring economic growth and achieving energy independence", according to the Post's article.

And Agence France-Presse quotes John Boehner, speaker of the US House of Representatives and a Republican as saying:
If we don't build this pipeline to bring that Canadian oil, and take out the North Dakota oil and deliver it to our refineries in the Gulf Coast, that oil is going to be shipped out to the Pacific Ocean and be sold to the Chinese... This is not good for our country.
Canada is also developing another pipeline to carry bitumen away from the Alberta tar sands. The proposed Northern Gateway would terminate on the West Coast, in British Columbia, where it could be shipped across the Pacific to China.
By contrast, many environmentalists regard Keystone as a key test of Obama's green credentials, which have taken a battering since he came to office.

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