Nebraska’s Governor Heineman signed off on the updated route for the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline today. While it’s a disappointing decision, it’s neither surprising nor unexpected. The Governors rubber stamp decision stems from a flawed process that is well-documented by the folks at BOLD Nebraska. This decision will not ease the concerns of Nebraskans worried about the impacts a spill could inflict the sensitive environments the pipeline would pass through. Moreover, Governor Heineman’s decisions has no bearing on the fact that an approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would be fundamentally inconsistent with the plan to address climate change that the President outlined in his inaugural address.
Let’s keep today’s announcement in perspective. While the Nebraska portion of the pipeline has been the most contentious segment of Keystone XL, it is just a small portion. Before the northern portion of the pipeline moves forward, the State Department is obligated to finish its supplemental environmental impact study on the entire project. It could come out at any time now, and should point to be biggest issue associated with the whole scheme: carbon pollution. If we are going to get serious about climate change, opening the spigot to a pipeline that will export up to 830,000 barrels of the dirtiest oil on the planet to foreign markets stands as a bad idea. The President signaled that his administration would refocus on climate during his inaugural speech yesterday. He can do that by saying no to this ill-advised tar sands pipeline, while also moving forward with NRDC’s Clean Air Act carbon-cutting proposal and moving carbon standards for power plants.
On President’s Day, we expect tens of thousands of Americans to head to Washington to deliver this message: This is your legacy President Obama, and the time for action on climate is now.