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Keystone XL Pipeline application denied; Obama says not a judgment on merits of the pipeline

The US Department of State recommended today to President Obama that the presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline be denied and, that at this time, the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline be determined not to serve the national interest. The President concurred with the Department’s recommendation, which was predicated on the fact that the Department does not have sufficient time to obtain the information necessary to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest.

The Department’s denial of the permit application does not preclude any subsequent permit application or applications for similar projects. The proposed pipeline was to carry oil sands crude from Canada to the US Gulf Coast.

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.

—President Obama

As a result of the review process of TransCanada’s permit application for the Keystone XL Pipeline particularly given the concentration of concerns regarding the proposed route through the Sand Hills area of Nebraska, the Department announced on 10 November that it could not make a national interest determination regarding the permit application without additional information. (Earlier post.)

Specifically, the Department called for an assessment of alternative pipeline routes that avoided the uniquely sensitive terrain of the Sand Hills in Nebraska. The Department estimated, based on prior projects of similar length and scope, that it could complete the necessary review to make a decision by the first quarter of 2013. In consultations with the State of Nebraska and TransCanada, they agreed with the estimated timeline, according to the Department.

On 23 December 2011, the Congress passed the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 (“the Act”). The Act provides 60 days for the President to determine whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest—which is insufficient for such a determination.



A good decision by USA. There are many better ways to reduce crude imports and create useful long lasting USA jobs.

For Canada, a Trans-Mountain Pipeline + a new Pacific Coast deep sea port would be many times more beneficial. That project could (now) be accelerated and operational by 2016/2017.


This diplomatic 'No' may actually show a bit of backbone.


...because hey, after all, it is far more important that the US be Brazil's best customer of oil drilled offshore in the Atlantic, than for the US to get oil from one its neighbor immediately to the north & one of our best allies in history.



"...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..."

Well said, it is not an all or nothing at all ideology. We want to use everything we can to secure our energy future in a responsible way.


Good decision Obama. And I say that as one of your neighbors to the north.


It's a political shakedown to play both sides of the issue to extort money as long as possible from the pro-pipeline & anti-pipeline folks going into the election.


Fortunately, we're only a year and two days away from this idjit leaving office. We may yet be able to salvage this.


Over 99% of all Canadian Oil exports already go to USA. A better diversification plan would be something like 30% to USA, 20% to EU and 50% to Asia, mainly to China, South Korea and Japan.

This could be done with/by:

1. a large diameter Trans-Mountain pipeline to handle 4,000,000+ barrels/day for the Asian market.
2. existing pipelines to ship 2,500,000+ barrels/day to USA
3. reversal of existing Portland Maine/Montreal and Quebec City/Montreal pipelines to ship 2,000,000+ barrels/day to EU.
4. increasing Alberta/Sarnia and Sarnia/Montreal pipelines capacity to satisfy Eastern Canada and EU needs.

That is not a difficult to do scenario. Our PM would be re-elected for another 10+ years.


I'm not necessarily against a pipeline but do the refining in Canada and pipe down the refined product but don't pipe down that ultra toxic corrosive unrefined crap.


Matthew, which of the other 'idjits' would you put up to replace him?


Good idea Bill. Partial Refining an extra 6,000,000+ barrels/day is a major endeavor and could have major local environmental impacts, but isn't it a requirement to transport that stuff in very long pipelines?


Canadian oil going East (China Korea) must depart from the West Coast. But BC is adamantly opposed to allowing pipelines, terminals and tankers operate off its coast. The Dogwood Project will delay or exclude any new tanker activity off of BC ports.

How will Canada's oil magnates deal with this??


Fort McMurray is the epicenter of tar sand land right? So they could build pipelines to the northwest and follow the Northwest Territory/Alberta boundary & Yukon Territory/BC boundary (staying just inside the Northwest Territory & Yukon Territory)...then connect into the established Valdez, Alaska system. I think the Alaskans would love to have the jobs & port activity.


Reel$$... So you are telling us Big Oil wants the US to take this stuff because the Canadians don't want to deal with it. That puts a different light on the issue.


The boards of big Canadian corporations want us to take this stuff and the Republicans are going along. There is a principle that U.S. politics should not be influenced by forces outside our country. We here is a prime example of that.


ejj, I suppose the Alaskans would rejoice at a big new pipeline project. And Alaska law requires oil pumped from Alaska territory - to pay fat royalties. Canadian oil would then contribute to Alaskan standard of living!

JMartin, I suppose tar sand oilcos love they have a solid, thirsty customer at the ready. Without having to deal with the gnarly shipping / political issues to the East.


What I find interesting about all this are the exaggerations, like those about how many jobs this would create. Over at FauxNews I heard one guy saying Obama judgement meant the lost of 1 million jobs, meanwhile, Megan Kelly (also of FauxNews) is claiming it's 50,000 and radio loudmouth Rush Lim-bla-bla is saying it's 200,000. However TransCanada, the company doing the work, says it would be only 20,000. Of course TransCanada also has a reason to inflate the numbers a bit so maybe a more believable number is the one from an independant thinktank - less than 5,000. And these number are only temp-jobs, the permanent jobs will likely be just a few hundred.


I estimate that if we build 100 large synthetic fuel plants over then next 10 years in the U.S. we could create 10,000 jobs that would last 10 years building the plants and 10,000 permanent jobs running the plants for the next 40 years.

I would much rather make synthetic gasoline from biomass and natural gas using our own domestic resources than become even more dependent on importing raw material, especially tar sands liquids from Canada.

Running synthetic gasoline in hybrid cars would reduce oil imports, running CNG/LNG/DME in trucks would as well. Converting all those trucks would create jobs. There are many ways we can get our economy moving again, so making the right moves would be a good start.


Ai_vin - you're correct...after the pipeline is installed, the new employees needed by TransCanada to actually operate and maintain the pipeline should only be a couple hundred. That being said, denying the pipeline and pledging to be Brazil's best customer of oil is anti-american and really pathetic by Obama.


You saying that the President is anti-American means nothing. It is what the people of this country say. I never said that Bush was anti-American, even though he lied about WMD and violated FISA laws many times.


This happened just today;

Kinder Morgan, Inc. calls spill at Abbotsford tank farm 'insignificant' - I call 110,000 litres of spilt light crude oil 110,000 litres too much.

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