By M.D. Kittle | Watchdog.org
Saying it has the power of the American people on its side, proponents of the long-embattled Keystone XL Pipeline planned to deliver more than a half-million comments to the U.S. State Department urging President Obama to approve the pipeline.
“The needlessly long review of the Keystone XL pipeline continues to deprive thousands of Americans of good-paying jobs and the nation of a vital piece of energy infrastructure,” said Cindy Schild, the American Petroleum Institute’s downstream operations senior manager for refining and oil sands, said Thursday morning in her opening statements at a Washington, D.C., news conference.
“At year six, and counting, of the administration’s review, support among policymakers and the public continues to grow,” Schild said. “To make sure the president hears the American people, we will deliver more than 500,000 comments to the State Department urging the president to approve the pipeline.”
The proposed $5.4-billion project, which would transport crude oil from Canada to Texas, has been mired in political controversy and administrative plodding, with environmentalists claiming climate change doom and project proponents declaring it an economic and national security boon.
Obama recently told U.S. governors he expects to decide whether to sign off on TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL proposal within the next few months.
For supporters and critics, there is a greater sense of urgency in these closing days of the public comment period for the Department of State’s National Interest Determination review of pipeline plan.
Despite the politics embroiling it, TransCanada CEO Russ Girling earlier this week predicted Obama will approve the pipeline.
“It is the next pipeline that is going to be built” in the United States, Girling said in an interview with Reuters at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston. “The marketplace continues to push us to build a pipeline. It’s the right thing to do.”
As Reuters noted, “the project hit a snag last month when a Nebraska judge ruled the state’s governor lacked authority to approve part of the project. Girling said he believes that ruling is a ‘solvable problem’ and won’t affect Obama’s process for reaching a final decision on Keystone XL.”
A majority of Nebraska lawmakers, however, are encouraging Obama to approve the pipeline.
Environmentalists are livid about the prospects of the pipeline, the nightmare fueling their fears of climate change. Some 500 protesters Sunday marched to the White House, chanting “Hey, Obama! We don’t want no pipeline drama.”
As the Washington Post reported, about 200 protesters who marched from Georgetown University through the streets of D.C., stopping in front of the house of Secretary of State John Kerry to drop “a fake oil spill,” were arrested after they used plastic zip ties to lock themselves to the White House fence.
“We are here to tell President Obama to stop a pipeline that he has the control to stop,” Justin Filtz, 26, who traveled from Stevens Point, Wis., told the Post. “The XL pipeline is like a line in the sand if we are going to stop climate change.”
All of that hostility comes after a U.S. State Department report that significantly downplayed the likelihood the project would alter global greenhouse emissions.
Keystone XL has bipartisan support from business, labor and politicians, and its economic effect could be immense.
Schild said the president could create 42,000 jobs in just one stroke of his pen. More so, the pipeline would bolster U.S. security, providing a ready supply of energy that does not come from the Middle East.
“As remaining factors like energy and economic security benefits, stability of the supply, relations with Canada, our top trading partner are considered, it will be only more evident that approval is the only decision that is best for Americans,” Schild said.
“The time for study is over,” Schild added. “The Obama administration has all the evidence it needs to approve the KXL now.”
Contact M.D. Kittle at [email protected]