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The pipeline stops here: Obama vetoes Keystone XL bill

Obama vetoes Keystone XL

President Obama. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Just hours after receiving legislation forcing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, President Barack Obama made good on his promises to veto the bill.

Obama’s veto was grounded in procedural wrangling, not climate concerns, with the official White House statement focused on preserving “longstanding and proven processes” for reviewing of cross-border infrastructure projects.

The next step: to reject the pipeline once and for all.

Erich Pica from Friends of the Earth said:

This fight isn’t over. Now that the pipeline has been vetoed, the next step is for President Obama to reject it entirely. This month his own EPA confirmed what we’ve been saying all along: the Keystone XL pipeline fails the President’s climate test. There are no more excuses! President Obama must reject the pipeline NOW!

The president has repeatedly said that he would reject the controversial tar sands pipeline if it is shown to exacerbate carbon pollution.

The highly-controversial Keystone XL pipeline, would connect Canada’s polluting tar sands with refineries along the Gulf Coast.

But tar sands oil is the dirtiest in the world—releasing 17% more carbon pollution than conventional oil—and this pipeline would give a shot in the arm to the floundering tar sands industry—helping companies get more dirty oil to Gulf Coast refineries.

With the US Environmental Protection Agency saying that Keystone XL would increase greenhouse gas emissions, it’s clear that Obama can only keep his climate promises by rejecting the project outright.

Annie Leonard Executive Director of Greenpeace USA said:

The science is clear: the Keystone XL Pipeline would have a devastating effect on our climate and set the stage for increased fossil fuel dependence for years to come. And we know all too well that pipeline oil spills, like the recent 63,000-gallon spill near the Yellowstone River, has devastating effects to neighboring communities, drinking water, and our health.

Waning support

Keystone backers are trying to make a case for the pipeline using bogus statistics and industry-backed studies. These false claims have been debunked time after time.

In reality, the pipeline would only produce 35 permanent jobs while putting a large swath of the country at risk of a catastrophic oil spill.

With benefits and risks so wildly out of balance, it’s no surprise that a broad and diverse coalition of activists, farmers, artists, academics, indigenous people, and others are coming together to urge President Obama to reject Keystone once and for all.

The pipeline has also been losing traction among the public, with just 41% supporting it according to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

Despite public ambivalence and the very real risk of a disastrous oil spill, the pipeline enjoys strong support on Capitol Hill, where 62 senators voted to force its approval.

In Congress, pipeline supporters received $13 million from the fossil fuel industry in campaign contributions during the 2014 campaign cycle according to Oil Change International and the Center for Responsive Politics.

Earthjustice Vice President of Policy and Legislation Marty Hayden said:

The decision to reject the tar sands pipeline is a decision that puts our communities and national interest above the corporate polluter special interests who are calling the shots in this new Congress. Our children and their future will reap the rewards of today’s good decision.

Despite today’s veto, the Keystone XL saga still will not come to a close—Republican leaders have promised to continue to push for tar sands expansion, and an attempt to override the veto is expected no later than 3 March.

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