Obama decision on Keystone XL still expected for this year

13 May 2013 22:19  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US energy industry officials said on Monday that they still expect a White House decision this year on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal, despite reports that the Obama administration might delay a ruling to 2014.

A spokeswoman for the American Petroleum Institute (API) said that the oil and natural gas trade group “still expects to get a decision this year” on the multi-billion dollar Keystone project.

Earlier, news agencies reported that the White House might delay until late this year or early 2014 a final decision on whether to authorise the pipeline.

Pending since 2008, the 1,700-mile (2,700 km), $7bn (€5.4bn) project would involve building a 36-inch (91 cm) pipeline across five US states, bringing crude to refineries in the US Midwest as well as Texas and providing refined products to another half-dozen states.

The project is subject to US State Department approval because it crosses the US-Canada international border, and it also falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers, among others.

In January last year, President Barack Obama rejected a Keystone XL approval mandate passed by Congress, saying that the decision on whether to give final approval to the project needed full consideration.

In the wake of that decision, a White House ruling on the pipeline had been expected sometime this year, once Obama was secure in his second and final term as president.

Environmentalists are vehemently opposed to the project and have been lobbying Congress and the White House to block the pipeline.

Michael Brune, executive director of environmental group Sierra Club, said that “President Obama must choose between what’s right and what’s easy, and what’s right is to reject Keystone XL”.

By postponing a decision on the Keystone XL project until next year, Obama conceivably could help boost the Democratic Party’s chances of recapturing the US House of Representatives in the November 2014 midterm elections - but only if he decides to kill the pipeline.  

A decision against the pipeline would invigorate Obama’s environmental constituents.

But if Obama were to approve the Keystone project, for political reasons it would be better for him to announce that ruling as far in advance of the November 2014 elections as possible, in hopes that environmentalists’ anger would cool in the meantime.

($1 = €0.77)

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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