Long awaited pipeline currently denied due to environmental concerns

Alexa Ura

A permit denial for a pipeline that would transport oil across the United States drew disapproval from political and labor union supporters of the project.

President Barack Obama denied the permit application for the Keystone XL pipeline on Jan. 18. The pipeline made headlines last year after conflict arose between Obama and Congressional Republicans who were in favor of project.

The Keystone XL pipeline system, proposed by TransCanada, is a $13 million, 1,661-mile underground oil pipeline that would travel from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast through Texas, according the TransCanada’s website.

Laborer councils and unions who demonstrated their support for the pipeline during the U.S. Department of State’s community hearings are disappointed by the decision said Jaclyn Macek Houser, spokeswoman for Laborers’ International Union of North America.

“The president sided with environmentalists instead of construction workers that have suffered because of a lack of jobs,” Macek Houser said. “This is politics at its worst.”

In a statement released by the White House, Obama said his decision was based on the deadline placed by Congressional Republicans that prevented the State Department from gathering necessary information on the pipeline’s health and environmental impact to approve the project.

Reno Hammond, business manager for Southwest Laborers’ District Council, said Obama’s decision was not a surprise after Congress put pressure on the president to make a decision before he wanted to.

“I don’t think it’s off the table yet,” Hammond said. “But I think having to stall because of a minority belief in what affects the environment is unfortunate.”

Critics of the pipeline celebrated Obama’s decision but are aware that the pipeline proposal is only postponed, said Andrew Townsend, assistant director of the Campus Environmental Center.

TransCanada announced they would re-apply for a permit for the Keystone pipeline in hopes to receive approval to begin construction on their project in late 2014.

“Time will tell what form the new proposal will take and whether or not this battle has simply been pushed further down the road,” Townsend said.

Last year, the center presented legislation in opposition to the pipeline to Student Government.

“Nevertheless, this is a victory for the environmental community and America as a whole,” he said.

Jamie Henn, co-founder of environmental activist group 350.org who protested against the pipeline, said Obama did the right thing by denying the permit for a pipeline that was a scam and would have endangered land and water along its route.

“Stopping this pipeline was step one,” Henn said. “President Obama now needs to lay out an ambitious plan to create a new clean energy economy, one that can create jobs, save the planet and help break the stranglehold ‘Big Oil’ has over our democracy.”

Printed on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 as: Environmental concerns: awaited pipeline denied