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Victory in Keystone XL Pipeline Fight: Obama Administration Calls for New Review and a Year Delay

Frances Beinecke

Posted November 10, 2011

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President Obama took a stand for the people of Nebraska today, and Americans everywhere, when his administration stood up to Big Oil to say we won't put our people, waters and croplands at risk for the sake of pipeline profits and dirty fuels.

That kind of leadership takes courage, and I applaud the president for doing the right thing.

The State Department has decided to conduct a new review of the Keystone XL proposal. In its statement, officials said they will analyze alternative routes for the pipeline, but they also mentioned the need to consider “environmental concerns, including climate change.” The process will likely take until early 2013.

This is a major victory. For months, we’ve demonstrated the State Department’s review of the pipeline was flawed, inadequate, and possibly even biased. This project simply cannot withstand scrutiny. We are confident that after thorough review, President Obama will kill this dangerous pipeline once and for all.

Today’s announcement confirms the President’s commitment to building a clean energy future. In July, he proposed clean car standards that will cut vehicle carbon pollution in half, reduce our oil use by 3.1 million barrels per day by 2030, and create up to 150,000 American jobs. Earlier this week, the administration moved ahead with plans to limit carbon pollution from new power plants.

These measures will unleash innovation, make the air safer for our families, and put Americans to work bringing our cars and power plants into the 21st century. Dirty tar sands oil—the production of which releases three times as many greenhouse gases as conventional crude—has no place in that future.

Today’s announcement is also a testament to the power of citizens to make their voices heard over the clamor of Big Oil.

Eighteen months ago, this pipeline was viewed as a foregone conclusion. But NRDC and our allies fought back. Ranchers, farmers, and business leaders along the 1,700 mile path of the proposed pipeline spoke out against the unnecessary dangers it posed to their land, water and climate.

The outcry was especially loud in Nebraska, where the pipeline would cut through the vulnerable Sandhills region and across the essential Ogallala Aquifer. Polls show the vast majority of Huskers oppose this project, and the state legislature is holding a special session right now to determine what it can do to protect Nebraskans from this threat. Strong leaders like Governor Heineman and Senator Johanns opposed the route, in part because core Republican values of conservation, property and state’s rights are at stake.

As opposition to the pipeline was taking hold in the Heartland, it caught fire across the nation. Americans from all walks of life recognized that inviting corrosive oil and climate pollution into our backyard was not in our national interest. In August, 1,200 people chose to be arrested during a peaceful sit-in at the White House in protest over the pipeline.

And last Sunday, as many as 15,000 Americans encircled the White House to tell President Obama to reject Keystone XL. These religious leaders, ranchers, union workers, representatives from Canada’s First Nations, Nobel Laureates, college students, victims of the BP oil disaster, and many other concerned citizens called on the President to deliver on his clean energy promises.

I thank all of the people who contributed their time and support to blocking this pipeline. And I thank President Obama for putting the brakes on a dirty, dangerous project.

I know that revisiting the flawed review process will result in the right answer: America does not need to deepen our oil addiction with this tar sands pipeline. And as we await that final decision, we have succeeded in closing the spigot on more than a half million barrels of dirtiest oil on the planet every day.


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AlejandroNov 10 2011 04:58 PM

It seems a bit early to claim victory. We're giving Obama too much credit, too soon. This decision has only put off to the future, what should've been done today. He was in a jam, in between environmentalists and oil and gas interests, with the Republi-cons pushing for "more jobs" (and as usual, regardless of what kind, and at what long term cost). This was a way out for now, temporarily pleasing us environmentalists, while not saying "NO" to Big Oil either, which in reality, is just more of the same from him, that being, trying to please everyone, but not really getting anywhere, and not really sticking to his original platform of change, and hope. I for one, continue to be disappointed in his unwillingness to charge forward unwaveringly and with clear intent on a progressive agenda. I am sick of the coddling of the Reichwing.

Real JobNov 10 2011 06:25 PM

My one hope is the writer of this article has to get a real job someday like the rest of us. Better late then never

Elise MartonNov 11 2011 01:50 PM

Unfortunately, I must agree with Alejandro. While the president's decision--or, rather, non-decision--has the effect of putting off a bad thing, it is more about politics than policy. I believe he simply wants to delay this kind of decision until after the election. For more examples of same, take a look at today's New York Times, page 1.

JLewisNov 11 2011 05:17 PM

I'm not feeling the victory vibe in Obama's decision; rather, I see a "kick the political hot potato" down the field until either he's back in office and can safely make the decision in favor of big oil, or let the Republicans approve it. I think NRDC should stop touting victory and be a lot more cautious in this instance.

Josh MogermanNov 11 2011 06:19 PM

Thanks to all of you for your interest in the Keystone XL fight and for taking the time to express your concerns. We have been engaged in this battle from the first day that this dangerous project was proposed and do not take it lightly. We will continue to watch closely as the process resets.

Your caution is warranted, but make no mistake, this is a victory.

A year ago, all the political observers said this thing was a slam dunk. Inevitable. And in looking at the flawed process advancing in evaluating the permit, rife with conflicts of interest and missing issues that obviously should have been looked at (like alternative routes), the chances of victory looked slim. But the concerns voiced by more than 10,000 people on the president's lawn last weekend were heard. The process has been restarted despite immense pressure from Big Oil and their apologists. We are confident that any real analysis of this project will make clear that it is not in the nation’s best interest to act as a pass through for Canadian companies to move their acidic crude to foreign markets while endangering the climate and American resources.

In the meantime, every day that passes is a day that the pipeline will not be pumping at least a half million barrels of the most carbon-heavy oil on the planet. That is a climate win in and of itself.

We will be watching this process as it unfolds and if things go in the wrong direction, we will fight it. But in the meantime, the President’s decision reflected things that Americans value most: our land, water and climate. The nation's focus on these issues will not change. Neither will NRDC's. And we expect the President to join in when the time comes.

Steven Nov 12 2011 12:30 PM

I am a member of the NRDC and I received the email encouraging me to "Thank" President Obama. I like Alejandro am uneasy with this claim of "victory".

NPR and other news channels are all reporting that Obama is now looking for other routes for the pipeline.

Obama promised energy leadership. I campaigned for him. I knocked on doors for him -passing along his energy leadership platform. I now feel like a fool for using my precious time and resources to travel to another state to participate in making false promises.

I won't do it again and I certainly won't thank Obama for his posturing.

conusamNov 12 2011 12:47 PM

"My one hope is the writer of this article has to get a real job someday like the rest of us. Better late then never"

Well put! Let's ask ms. Beinecke how much she makes a year. More than the unemployed - I'm sure. More than the unemployed that Obama and this group are responsible for! Oh wait maybe they could get jobs in that solar panel company in CALIFORNIA.
Did you know that the average salary at NRDC is $85,000. Some will make more obviously and some will make less. Salaries should be public record.

katNov 12 2011 06:30 PM

Ms. Beinecke makes close or more than 280,000 and the founder father john adams makes 3 quarters of a million per year. It' is apparently public knowledge.

Keep sending in those donations - someone has to eat and sleep.

GuthrumNov 12 2011 11:01 PM

About 5 months ago, gas was at or over $4 a gallon: that's $4 a gallon that middle class working people have to pay to get to work, to the store, church, shopping, and vacations. I do not live near any "mass" transit: we live in the rural area. If some king in the middle east sneezes, the price of oil goes up. Would you rather get oil from Canada or from some nut case like Chavez, from that crazy president of Iran, or from whoever in Libya? I would pick Canada any day. Electric cars? Show me one that can go 10 -12 hours on a charge or can charge in 20 minutes and I'll listen. The president has showed a total lack of judgement and sanity in this decision: totally indefensible and one that puts this country at risk of economic crisis if something happens in the middle east. Canada is a far more sensible source for oil. This pipeline would go a long way in helping to stabilize oil prices in this country. This is the view of a middle class American worker.

jason CNov 13 2011 12:42 PM

Ah yes, bitumen from athabasca oil sands formation in Alberta, Canada. Those formations were just discovered in 2008 when the keystone pipeline was started, or were they? It could have been in 2003, or was it in 1979 when someone in Iran sneezed? No the middle class All American worker, or anyone else would be looking at $1.50/gal U.S. self-serve 93 octane. Or back to the1960's when it was a dollar per gallons. The U.S. was not too busy to get involved in the politics of the middle east . Was it a total lack of judgement and or sanity in the decision to buy oil from some kings at incredibily low prices, where was the Keystone pipeline then ? Perhaps the people involved were tired from trying to sleep on all of those piles of money, or up all of the night trying to count it. Was it the threat of the XL pipeline and leaving his country at risk and possibly overthrown be the reason ? This might cause a king to sneeze when he found out we were affecting the stability of his country and the lives of the people of the region. pt. 1.

Still hopeful, open-minded environmental advocateNov 13 2011 08:47 PM

This decision by the Obama Administration is a MAJOR victory!! The President's record on the environment certainly hasn't been perfect. We know that. But let's all give credit where credit is due: President Obama and his Administration have, at least recently, made some very good decisions on environmental and human health matters, and they should be applauded and supported for that! If anyone wants to go back to the reckless and destructive environmental and economic policies of the previous administration, then that's their own business. Everyone certainly has the right to their opinion. I for one though, do not want to see those policies revisited. So, I think we should thank President Obama and his administration for their more recent environmental policy decisions. But, yes, we must continue to stay on guard and do our best to make sure that they continue to make good environmental policy decisions in the future as well. Thank you Frances and NRDC for all the great work you have done to help win this Keystone pipeline victory and the many other important victories that have been won on behalf of the environment, endangered species, clean energy, and human health! And please keep writing the good blogs like the one on this page - don't be deterred at all by negative comments like some of those posted above. Also, a big thank you to fellow supporters of NRDC and other environmental advocacy groups. After all, when our efforts are combined, we all have the power to help create positive change on behalf of the environment and human health. We CAN cut down on fossil fuel production and usage. We CAN protect human health by upholding and strengthening clean air and clean water laws. And we CAN protect the planet's biodiversity. And despite what many people and corporations want us to think, we CAN do all of these things without having to sacrifice jobs or economic growth!

conusamNov 13 2011 09:21 PM

Yes Frances is doing a great job and earning a great living!!!!!

For you dear hopeful Obama's decision is purely a political one - nothing else.

Still hopeful, open-minded environmental advocateNov 13 2011 10:38 PM

As a follow-up to my comments from earlier, I would like to state that while It is not my responsibility, as a supporter, to defend the reputation, finances, or salaries of NRDC or Frances, I would like to speak up here. Specifically, I want to speak in regards to the comments made above by "Conusam" and "Kat". It appears, after reading those writer's comments, that they may be either intentionally or unintentionally trying to mislead the readers of this blog. The website link given above, for instance, takes the reader to a website that can be traced to a big business and industry-backed special interest group called the "Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise". That group has been regarded by many knowledgeable people and independent watchdogs as a group that gets some of its largest financial support and backing from those who have a stake in the well-being of the oil, gas, and coal industries - or more specifically - the well-being of their ultra-wealthy executives. In other words, they are backed by, and represent, those who most-highly profit from the destruction of our natural resources and the pollution of our air, water, and land. They are good at making up their own facts and spreading lies - via their chain of websites, publications, and media spokespeople - about the actions and beliefs of environmental and animal advocacy groups and their leaders. Everyone should inform themselves, using reputable and truly independent sources, on the truth about specific issues and the merits of organizations advocating for or against those issues. Here is a link to a universally-respected independent charity watchdog where you can find facts about the finances of NRDC and other organizations:
You will notice that NRDC has received a 4-star rating from this charity watchdog, showing that NRDC is a well-run organization that uses donations wisely and efficiently.
The main point here is this: most anyone can and often will post comments on blogs that appear on this and other websites. Some people who post comments may have a hidden agenda, some may not. One of the principles that the internet and our nation are both based upon, is that of the right to free speech. It is one of our greatest and most valuables rights, and that right should never be taken away or diminished. My hope is that the readers of this and other blogs about vitally important issues that affect us all, will educate themselves and do some research of their own, so that ultimately they can reach their own conclusions about what is factitious, and what is fictitious.

katNov 14 2011 08:09 AM

cALL ME A LIAR - What do they make then.? You have addressed everything except that. Your job is not to defent - right! YOu certainly did a pretty good imitation of it.

I have no hidden agenda just trying to keep them honest.

"ultra-wealthy executives." EXACTLY!


conusamNov 14 2011 08:33 AM

If I wanted financial statements I can look at nrdc's home page - the info is there and as plain as the nose on your face - maybe!

Salaries are list as almost half of revenue - see for yourself. Although it doesn't state what individual salaries are I am sure not all people are created equal!

conusamNov 14 2011 10:10 PM

"It appears, after reading those writer's comments, that they may be either intentionally or unintentionally trying to mislead the readers of this blog. "

I am not misleading anyone - I am simply saying that Ms. Beinecke an Mr. Adam are rich people and get paid a good salary. If you could ACTUALLY tell me how much you think they get paid or they could ACTUALLY tell us how much they get paid then by all means enlighten!

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