President Obama announced his long-awaited official decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline, by arguing that he project would undercut America’s leadership to prevent climate change.
“Frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership, and that’s the biggest risk we face; not acting,” he said. “Because if ultimately if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some of our fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them.”
Obama argued that gas prices and the unemployment rate were already low, making the project an unnecessary risk to the environment.
The decision is one of the president’s most cynical political moves. It comes long after Democratic interest-groups clashed over the proposal in 2008.
Proponents said the pipeline would aid the economy and would employ skilled workers, but it was opposed by billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, who has donated many millions of dollars to help stop the project. In 2014, the project became even more political as Republican candidates blasted Senate Democrats for continuing to opposed the project for idealogical reasons even though it would bring jobs and energy to the United States.
Instead of accepting or rejecting the pipeline on a normal timeline, Obama’s deputies at the State Department under Hillary Clinton, and then John Kerry, continued to stall the decision through at least three elections.
Obama dismissed the controversy as he announced he would finally block the project. “For years, the Keystone pipeline has occupied what I have frankly considered an overinflated role in our political discourse,” Obama said, describing it as a “cudgel” by both political parties.