Environmentalists Fret Over Obama Admin Keystone Report

The State Department has released its much-anticipated report on the environmental impact of the Keystone Pipeline and, to the alarm of the green lobby, it seems to leave President Obama with little reason to continue delaying approval of the project.

The 2,000 page report makes no final recommendation on whether or not to approve construction of the energy project but does definitively say that the pipeline would have "no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed Project route."

This runs contrary to the fears of environmental groups that have claimed the pipeline would be "essentially game over for the climate."

The Sierra Club excoriated the report, saying it was "outraged" by the conclusions.

"We’re mystified as to how the State Department can acknowledge the negative effects of the Earth’s dirtiest oil on our climate," The Sierra Club wrote in a press release, "but at the same time claim that the proposed pipeline will ‘not likely result in significant adverse environmental effects.’ Whether this failure was willful or accidental, this report is nothing short of malpractice."

"President Obama said that he’s committed to fighting the climate crisis. If that is true, he should throw the State Department’s report away and reject the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline," the environmental group concluded.

The Executive Director of Greenpeace, Phil Radford, was similarly upset and insisted that "letting corporations get rich off of environmental devastation will make Obama’s climate rhetoric look like the worst kind of greenwashing."

Republicans quickly came out to urge the President to approve construction of the pipeline immediately. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and House Speaker John Boehner both urged the President to move forward on the project. Democrat Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) also advocated for beginning an immediate approval process.

Consumer Energy Alliance Executive Vice-President, Michael Whatley, celebrated the report, saying it "refutes" claims by opponents of Keystone; he urged the quick approval of a cross-border permit to get the project underway.

For months project opponents have tried to convince the public that moving forward with the pipeline would sacrifice our environment to the benefit of our economy. The draft SEIS from the State Department clearly refutes this false choice.

The document clearly shows the project will have minimal environmental impacts when TransCanada implements its proposed project Construction, Mitigation and Reclamation plan (CMRP) and refutes project opponents’ claims that the project will increase carbon emissions from oil sands development.

With this roadblock to approval removed, opponents were left with only one more move: to appeal to President Obama's stated fealty to climate issues.

The Sierra Club's Michael Brune told reporters that while they accept the President at his word when he says he supports environmentalists' issues, they hoped he would stand firm now. "We think this is an excellent opportunity for the president to demonstrate that commitment."


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