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Obama Rejects Plans To Build Keystone XL Pipeline

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Obama Rejects Plans To Build Keystone XL Pipeline

Energy

Obama Rejects Plans To Build Keystone XL Pipeline

Obama Rejects Plans To Build Keystone XL Pipeline

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/455048998/455048999" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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After seven years of study, the Obama administration has rejected plans for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. The move comes on the eve of an international climate summit.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

In a long-running saga of crude oil and sometimes cruder politics, the Keystone XL pipeline has hit a dead end. President Obama announced that his administration will not permit a Canadian company to build the pipeline, a pipeline that would have linked the tar sands of Alberta with the refineries of the U.S. Gulf Coast. NPR's Scott Horsley reports that the president's decision was made easier by a rising economy and falling oil prices.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: TransCanada's effort to build Keystone has taken almost as many twists and turns at the 1,200-mile pipeline itself would, with lawsuits and legislative battles that dragged on more than seven years. In the end, though, President Obama decided the pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States and would only encourage development of the western Canadian tar sands that could have an outsized impact on climate change.

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BARACK OBAMA: 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.

HORSLEY: The president 's decision was cheered by Nebraska landowners who challenged the pipeline's route and by climate activists around the country. Gene Karpinski heads the League of Conservation Voters.

GENE KARPINSKI: The president did the right thing and it helped cement his legacy as a true champion in the fight against climate change. It's a big win for the environmental movement. It's a big win for our planet.

HORSLEY: Some say that win is largely symbolic and others were quick to blast the decision, including Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail, and proponents of fossil fuels. Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute accused the White House of putting political calculation above sound science.

JACK GERARD: This decision will cost thousands of jobs. It's an assault on American workers. It's politics at its worst.

HORSLEY: Obama himself complained the Keystone controversy had been overly politicized on both sides.

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OBAMA: This pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.

HORSLEY: But any fallout from the charge that Obama is turning away jobs was cushioned today by a stronger-than-expected employment report, showing the U.S. added 31,000 construction jobs last month alone. Unemployment fell to its lowest level in more than seven years. The president's choice was also made easier by political changes in Canada with a new prime minister. Justin Trudeau is much less enthusiastic about Keystone than his predecessor, Stephen Harper. Trudeau said today he's disappointed by Obama's decision, but he added the Canada-U.S. relationship is much bigger than any one project. One big factor behind the timing of today's announcement is the upcoming international summit in Paris, where Obama hopes to set an example for other countries to rein in heat-trapping carbon pollution.

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OBAMA: America's now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And, frankly, improving this project would have undercut that global leadership. And that's the biggest risk we face.

HORSLEY: Critics complain Obama's rejection of the Keystone pipeline may actually end up adding to carbon pollution, as energy companies rely on less efficient trains, trucks and barges to transport oil from Canada. That would have been the case in the fall of 2008 when Keystone first applied for its permit. But since then, the price of oil has tumbled by more than half, making it likely that with or without a pipeline at least some of that oil will stay put in the tar sands. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House.

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