keystone xl pipeline

On January 21st, our nation listened as President Obama made his second inaugural speech. Thousands were in attendance as he made references to a variety of topics including immigration reform, gun violence, equal pay for women, and of course, climate change.

President Obama emphasized the importance of our country’s actions in order to reduce climate change.  “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Obama firmly declared to the nation during his inaugural speech.  “We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim promise.  This is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.”

But what about the Keystone XL pipeline? Where does that fit in the plan? Earlier this week, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman officially approved the new route for the infamous pipeline, which will transport synthetic crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Now, Obama is faced with an epic decision. Will he approve this project and work toward his goal of new job creation and U.S. energy independence? Or will he reject the pipeline in support of his promise to protect our environment and prevent any further climate change?

To make Obama’s decision even harder, 53 senators are now pushing him to approve. One day after Heineman expressed his support for the $7 billion project, a congressional letter was written directly to the president himself.  “The factors supporting the national interest determination in 2009 are just as relevant today,” the senators stated in the letter.  “Because (Keystone XL) has gone through the most exhaustive environmental scrutiny of any pipeline in the history of this country and you already determined that oil from Canada is in the national interest, there is no reason to deny or further delay this long-studied project.”

The senators also took a second approach and stated that the Keystone XL pipeline will create “thousands of good-paying union jobs and millions of dollars in economic development for our country as a whole, none of which cost any taxpayer money.”

But pressure is coming from the opposite direction as well.  Environmentalists are claiming that this is Obama’s greatest opportunity to keep his inaugural promise to fight climate change.  May Boeve, executive director of the group 350.org, shared her attitude toward the situation, “This decision is now firmly on President Obama’s desk.  Approving the Keystone XL would make a mockery of the commitment he made at the inauguration to take action on climate change.”

Fear of damage to nearby wetlands, groundwater, plants and animals is the major reason why President Obama is so hesitant to approve.  If he does show his support, what will happen to “our forests and waterways?”  Or our “croplands and snowcapped peaks?”  But then again, if he does not approve, what will become of our nation’s unemployment rate and reliance on foreign energy sources?  Both defenders and opponents to the pipeline are closely watching, anticipating President Obama’s final decision on this drawn-out subject.  Many experts, including a former Clinton administration official, are in fact, predicting that the pipeline will receive presidential approval.  What do you think the final verdict will be?  Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image: Natural Gas Pipeline via Shutterstock