Victory in Keystone XL Pipeline Fight: Obama Administration Calls for New Review and a Year Delay

President Obama took a stand for the people of Nebraska today, and Americans everywhere, when his administration stood up to Big Oil to say we won't put our people, waters and croplands at risk for the sake of pipeline profits and dirty fuels.

That kind of leadership takes courage, and I applaud the president for doing the right thing.

The State Department has decided to conduct a new review of the Keystone XL proposal. In its statement, officials said they will analyze alternative routes for the pipeline, but they also mentioned the need to consider “environmental concerns, including climate change.” The process will likely take until early 2013.

This is a major victory. For months, we’ve demonstrated the State Department’s review of the pipeline was flawed, inadequate, and possibly even biased. This project simply cannot withstand scrutiny. We are confident that after thorough review, President Obama will kill this dangerous pipeline once and for all.

Today’s announcement confirms the President’s commitment to building a clean energy future. In July, he proposed clean car standards that will cut vehicle carbon pollution in half, reduce our oil use by 3.1 million barrels per day by 2030, and create up to 150,000 American jobs. Earlier this week, the administration moved ahead with plans to limit carbon pollution from new power plants.

These measures will unleash innovation, make the air safer for our families, and put Americans to work bringing our cars and power plants into the 21st century. Dirty tar sands oil—the production of which releases three times as many greenhouse gases as conventional crude—has no place in that future.

Today’s announcement is also a testament to the power of citizens to make their voices heard over the clamor of Big Oil.

Eighteen months ago, this pipeline was viewed as a foregone conclusion. But NRDC and our allies fought back. Ranchers, farmers, and business leaders along the 1,700 mile path of the proposed pipeline spoke out against the unnecessary dangers it posed to their land, water and climate.

The outcry was especially loud in Nebraska, where the pipeline would cut through the vulnerable Sandhills region and across the essential Ogallala Aquifer. Polls show the vast majority of Huskers oppose this project, and the state legislature is holding a special session right now to determine what it can do to protect Nebraskans from this threat. Strong leaders like Governor Heineman and Senator Johanns opposed the route, in part because core Republican values of conservation, property and state’s rights are at stake.

As opposition to the pipeline was taking hold in the Heartland, it caught fire across the nation. Americans from all walks of life recognized that inviting corrosive oil and climate pollution into our backyard was not in our national interest. In August, 1,200 people chose to be arrested during a peaceful sit-in at the White House in protest over the pipeline.

And last Sunday, as many as 15,000 Americans encircled the White House to tell President Obama to reject Keystone XL. These religious leaders, ranchers, union workers, representatives from Canada’s First Nations, Nobel Laureates, college students, victims of the BP oil disaster, and many other concerned citizens called on the President to deliver on his clean energy promises.

I thank all of the people who contributed their time and support to blocking this pipeline. And I thank President Obama for putting the brakes on a dirty, dangerous project.

I know that revisiting the flawed review process will result in the right answer: America does not need to deepen our oil addiction with this tar sands pipeline. And as we await that final decision, we have succeeded in closing the spigot on more than a half million barrels of dirtiest oil on the planet every day.

About the Authors

Frances Beinecke

Former President

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