The administration rejected the Keystone XL pipeline today. At least for now, the thing is not getting built. Here’s the official reasoning:

Statement by the President on the Keystone XL Pipeline

Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.

This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people. I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my Administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil. Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up, while imports of foreign oil are down. In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security –including the potential development of an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico – even as we set higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and invest in alternatives like biofuels and natural gas. And we will do so in a way that benefits American workers and businesses without risking the health and safety of the American people and the environment.

The Republicans reacted with typical disingenuousness, ignoring the environmental impact of both pipeline spills and the massive greenhouse gas emissions the Alberta oil sands project will produce. If you were to believe them, there is no downside to producing some of the dirtiest energy known to man. For example:

Oil sands development is carbon-intensive. The production and upgrading required to produce synthetic crude oil from oil sands mining results in greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 62 to 164 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per barrel. In situ development, which is generally more carbon-intensive than mining, results in emission rates between 99 and 176 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per barrel.10 Although there is a high degree of variation, industry average emissions for oil sands production and upgrading are estimated to be 3.2 to 4.5 times as intensive per barrel as conventional crude produced in North America.11 Canadian government reports similarly suggest that “GHG emissions from oil sands mining and upgrading are about five times greater than those from conventional light/medium crude oil production.”12 Even if you look at it from a full life-cycle “well-to-wheels” basis, oil sands are overall still one of the most greenhouse gas intensive fuel sources.13

You don’t even want to know about how much toxic water they produce. In any case, as you can probably guess, the president is going to take a lot of flak for denying the Keystone XL permit. You might want to have his back, since he did the right thing in the face of some of the most powerful lobbying interests in the world.

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