Video: President Obama Announces Rejection of Keystone XL Pipeline

Years of hard work by environmental activists against TransCanada’s proposed tar sands export pipeline, Keystone XL, paid off today, with President Obama’s announcement that he was rejecting the pipeline. The main reasons cited by President Obama for this rejection?

  • “First: The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy.”
  • “Second: The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers. “
  • “Third: Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security.”

After listing these reasons for rejecting Keystone XL, President Obama went on to make several more important points about clean energy, environmental protection and economic growth more broadly.

  • We can have both environmental protection and economic growth with clean energy. As President Obama said: “…the old rules said we couldn’t promote economic growth and protect our environment at the same time. The old rules said we couldn’t transition to clean energy without squeezing businesses and consumers. But this is America, and we have come up with new ways and new technologies to break down the old rules, so that today, homegrown American energy is booming, energy prices are falling, and over the past decade, even as our economy has continued to grow, America has cut our total carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.”
  • Clean energy is needed to combat climate change. “The United States of America is leading on climate change with our investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.”
  • We need to keep at least “some” fossil fuels in the ground. “Because 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 fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.”
  • We need to act now by moving towards a clean energy economy.  “If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now.  Not later.  Not someday.  Right here, right now.  And I’m optimistic about what we can accomplish together.  I’m optimistic because our own country proves, every day—one step at a time—that not only do we have the power to combat this threat, we can do it while creating new jobs, while growing our economy, while saving money, while helping consumers, and most of all, leaving our kids a cleaner, safer planet at the same time.”

Nearly two years ago, Scaling Green covered a conference at Georgetown University which brought together leading experts to ask whether Keystone XL could possibly “pass the President’s climate test.” The answer at that time was unequivocal, that it did not and could not, for a variety of reasons. One of the most important of those reasons was that, as we wrote at the time, “a ‘yes’ on Keystone XL means full steam ahead” for expanding tar sands production, and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with those tar sands. That’s because, due to the high cost of tar sands production, the Keystone XL pipeline would have made tar sands a bit less expensive to ship, and therefore a bit more competitive with competing energy sources.

Today, with a combination of much lower oil prices underming the fundamental economics of the tar sands industry, plus President Obama’s rejection earlier today of the Keystone XL pipeline, it looks like tough times ahead for one of the dirtiest, most environmentally destructive energy sources on the planet.  And other than for TransCanada and other oil industry players, that’s good news for everyone else, no matter how you look at it.