It has been over seven years since a Canadian company, TransCanada, submitted an application to the U.S. State Department to build the Keystone XL pipeline – a potential 1179 mile environmental disaster in the making – stretching from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. In an unexpected twist yesterday, TransCanada asked the State Department to halt its review of the project “as it as it waits out a separate process at the state level…it could take up to 12 months for the Nebraska process to be completed, adding further delay to an approval process that’s already taken seven years.”
This move is largely seen as an attempt by the company to take the decision out of President Obama’s hands – hoping to leave the decision for the next president. He has already vetoed the project once after a bill was approved in favor the Keystone XL by the Republican-controlled Congress. President Obama vetoed the bill in February 2015 and said at that time, “through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.”
The pipeline is designed to transport Canadian tar sands oil from Canada and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico, a process which requires that companies “destroy fragile forest ecosystems and then use a very energy-intensive upgrading and refining process to turn that sludge into transportation fuel. Tar sands mining and production harm the boreal forest’s fragile ecosystem, waste enormous amounts of water, disrupt the lives of indigenous people in the area and threaten our climate.” Yet in face of these environment disasters, Congressional Republicans blatantly and irresponsibly disregard these claims screaming that the veto is a job killer and threatens U.S. energy independence, neither of which are true.
Not surprisingly, Republicans and their fossil fuel industry supporters are advocating a policy that is all risk and no reward for the American people. They know the chilling effect approval of the Keystone pipeline will have on the nascent growth of the green energy industry – as it will impede progress toward green and sustainable economic renewal. We know this is the Republican goal because we know whose pockets they have their hands in – big oil.
Knowing that President Obama is likely to oppose Keystone XL, once and for all, before he leaves office, TransCanada has provided a bogus half-baked excuse for holding about the State Department’s review – asking it to suspend the process until a local state review is completed. We also know that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have come out against the project, while every Republican presidential candidate supports it. We, of course, don’t know if the Administration will grant the request and we can only hope it won’t, but the request is clearly aimed at taking the decision out of this President’s hands – in hopes of leaving it to the next president just in case he’s a Republican – just another of the endless reasons to vote Democratic on November 8, 2016.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.