Today, President Obama changed the rules of the game: he stood up to Big Oil’s bullying and rejected the massively destructive Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The pipeline was rejected for all the right reasons. President Obama put the health and safety of our people, our air, lands and water – our national interest—above the interests of Big Oil. This a victory shared by many today – by farmers in Nebraska and all along the pipeline route and by those who have already suffered the harm of climate change in droughts, fires, floods and violent storms.
Rather than bringing America energy security, the tar sands pipeline would have bypassed the Midwest so that tar sands could be exported with tax benefits for the oil companies. Rather than provide a national jobs plan based on clean energy, the pipeline would have put our land, water and climate at risk for a single construction project. And rather than lowering oil prices, the pipeline would have lowered oil supply in the Midwest causing prices there to rise.
Republicans in the House brought this decision to a head. The President was going to take another year for a new route through Nebraska that would not cross the fragile Sandhills to be determined and assessed. But with a provision in the payroll tax holiday extension bill to force a decision by February 21, the Administration had no choice but to reject the permit application. How could a pipeline be approved when the whole route is not even known?
The President stood up to Big Oil – despite threats of “huge consequences.” He listened to millions of Americans who said that we are done with oil schemes that pollute our homes and water and wreak havoc with our climate all so that oil companies can make out like bandits. He showed the kind of leadership that Americans look for and that people around the world respect. By rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the President stood up for our health, our safety, our farms, our homes in protecting us against tar sands oil spills and climate change. That is the kind of leadership that takes us into a clean energy future.