Obama Rejects Construction of Keystone XL Oil Pipeline – by Coral Davenportnov (New York Times – November 6, 2015)

http://www.nytimes.com/

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced on Friday that he had rejected the request from a Canadian company to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ending a seven-year review that had become a symbol of the debate over his climate policies.

Mr. Obama’s denial of the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline, which would have carried 800,000 barrels a day of carbon-heavy petroleum from the Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast, comes as he seeks to build an ambitious legacy on climate change.

“America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change,’’ Mr. Obama said in remarks from the White House. “And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.’’

The move was made ahead of a major United Nations summit meeting on climate change to be held in Paris in December, when Mr. Obama hopes to help broker a historic agreement committing the world’s nations to enacting new policies to counter global warming. While the rejection of the pipeline is largely symbolic, Mr. Obama has sought to telegraph to other world leaders that the United States is serious about acting on climate change.

The once-obscure Keystone project became a political symbol amid broader clashes over energy, climate change and the economy. The rejection of a single oil infrastructure project will have little impact on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, but the pipeline plan gained an outsize profile after environmental activists spent four years marching and rallying against it in front of the White House and across the country.

Mr. Obama said that the pipeline has occupied what he called “an overinflated role in our political discourse.’’

“It has become a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter,’’ he said. “And all of this obscured the fact that 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.’’

The rejection of the pipeline is one of several actions Mr. Obama has taken as he intensifies his push on climate change in his last year in office. In August, he announced his most significant climate policy, a set of aggressive new regulations to cut emissions of planet-warming carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants.

Republicans and the oil industry had demanded that the president approve the pipeline, which they said would create jobs and stimulate economic growth. Many Democrats, particularly those in oil-producing states such as North Dakota, also supported the project. In February, congressional Democrats joined with Republicans in sending Mr. Obama a bill to speed approval of the project, but the president vetoed the measure.

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