Keystone Pipeline Comments by Obama Heard Selectively by Foes, Backers

Wednesday, 26 Jun 2013 01:58 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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President Obama appeared to give himself wiggle room during comments Tuesday about the long debated proposed Keystone XL pipeline during his major speech on climate change at Georgetown University.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, though, his comments left enough room for interpretation to fill the Superdome. Pipeline supporters and opponents took the comments differently.

"Our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution," Obama said in his speech, noted the Christian Science Monitor. "The net effects of the pipeline's impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward."

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The proposed pipeline would carry oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico some 1,200 miles away. The pipeline has to be approved by the state department and Obama.

Christian Science Monitor said critics have charged that drilling in tar sands, and turning the extracted bitumen into crude oil, causes significant air and water pollution.

“The president made it emphatic: He won't green light a tar sands pipeline that means more carbon pollution, more climate chaos, more drought, heat, fire, and floods,” the Christian Science Monitor quoted Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of the international program with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Vermont's independent U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders told the Christian Science Monitor in a statement, though, that he took the president's comments as he was ready to give a pass to the project.

“The president must not give speeches about the dangers of global warming and then turn around and allow construction of the Keystone pipeline from Canada’s tar sands oil fields which would result in a huge increase in carbon emissions,” Sanders said, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

American Electric Power chief executive Nick Akins told the Washington Post that Obamka's speech had "unsettled many utility executives."

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The Post said Louisiana Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu was critical of additional energy rules even though she agreed with environmental protections.

“I believe that overzealous regulations are harmful to our economy,” Landrieu told the Post.

Related stories:

Keystone Pipeline Foes: Obama's Climate Plan No Tradeoff

Gore to Obama: Veto the Keystone XL Pipeline

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