The company behind the Keystone XL oil pipeline has sought suspension of its application to seek a federal permit. The U-turn by the company comes after non-favorable indications from the Obama administration.
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest categorically mentioned that President Barack Obama would make a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline before his term is over.
“Our expectation at this point… is that the President will make a decision before the end of his administration on the Keystone pipeline, but when exactly that will be I don’t know at this point.”
Since there have been persistent indications that Obama’s administration isn’t too keen on doling out a permit that allows transporting hundreds of thousands of barrels of heavy crude oil from Canada’s oil sands region to Gulf Coast refineries, the parent company might have sought to postpone the scrutiny of its application.
The company sponsoring the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline is TransCanada. Using the Keystone XL pipeline, it wants to exploit Canada’s oil-rich sands and have the crude squeezed out at refineries located in the Gulf Coast. Needless to say, environmental activists are very much against the TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline. Perhaps realizing that the Obama administration is likely to side with the nature-lovers, TransCanada asked for a suspension of its application, which is under review by the State Department, a short while after Earnest’s statements, reported Tree Hugger. Ironically, TransCanada once lamented about the delay in processing of the application and sought to expedite it.
Announced way back in 2008, the Keystone KL pipeline has been stuck in red tape. TransCanada intends to build a pipeline that starts in Canada and ends in Texas. However, it has been vehemently opposed in the U.S. debate over climate change and the intensive process of extracting Alberta’s oil and U.S. energy security, reported the Chicago Tribune.
Those who strongly oppose the pipeline, including presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and her main challengers for the Democratic nomination, claim the concept of tapping the Alberta oil sands requires large amounts of energy and water to extract and make it commercially viable as compared to mining for oil. The process is extremely polluting and increases greenhouse gas emissions, they claim. Environmentalists also fear pipeline ruptures or leakages, which is a common phenomenon, can easily and extensively pollute underground aquifers. Needless to say, these underground reservoirs of potable water are quite critical to the farmers of the Great Plains.
While the Democrats strongly oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, Many Republicans welcome it. They claim the pipeline is a great way to boost reliance on a U.S. ally for new supplies of heavy crude. Additionally, the pipelines would ferry oil at a much cheaper rate than the current mode of transport, which is railways. They claim transporting crude oil by railways is hazardous when compared to pipelines. Additionally, the proponents maintain the pipeline will create jobs and boost energy independence.
President Obama had declared in a speech in June 2013 that he would approve the project only if it “does not significantly exacerbate the climate problem.” Interestingly, the State Department indicated via two separate environmental reviews of the project that the Keystone XL pipeline would not contribute to global carbon output unless oil prices dipped to between $60 and $70 a barrel, reported the Washington Post.
The oil prices have been crashing significantly and currently hover at $50 per barrel. Moreover, crude recovered from oil sands is even cheaper.
Despite the seemingly favorable conditions, TransCanada is seeking suspension of its application. Perhaps the company is hopeful of getting a pro-pipeline candidate in the White House, one that incidentally doesn’t believe in climate change. At the least, TransCanada might succeed in handing over the issue to the next U.S. president, one who may not be so inclined to reject the application.
[Photo by Joe Raedle / Getty Images, Mandel Ngan / Getty Images, Tom Pennington/Getty Images]