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… And Obama Blocks Keystone Pipeline

by Jeff Johnson
January 23, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 4

Credit: Ammodramus
The impact of the Keystone pipeline on Nebraska’s Sand Hills is a concern.
Nebraska Sandhills in Hooker County, Nebraska, seen from Nebraska Highway 97 south of the Dismal River.
Credit: Ammodramus
The impact of the Keystone pipeline on Nebraska’s Sand Hills is a concern.

President Barack Obama announced on Jan. 18 that he would not approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a 1,700-mile-long proposed project to bring crude oil from Canada to the U.S. Obama’s decision was based on a State Department recommendation made earlier in the day. The State Department, which is overseeing a federal permitting process, announced last year that it would need until 2013 to study alternatives to the pipeline’s path through Nebraska’s sensitive Sand Hills area. Pipeline supporters in Congress, however, added a provision to a payroll tax bill in late December that required the President to decide the pipeline’s fate by Feb. 21 (see page 24). In his announcement, Obama said he could not make a decision on the pipeline’s merits at this time and hence would not approve it. The pipeline is opposed by environmental organizations and many in Congress because of the greenhouse gases emitted when processing crude oil from tar sands and the pipeline’s path. Pipeline supporters, however, say the pipeline will increase U.S. oil supplies, lower the price of gasoline, and provide jobs. Within minutes of the announcement, the House Energy & Commerce Committee announced hearings and proposed legislation to sidestep Obama’s decision.


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