Pipeline Squeezes Obama Between Supporters

Monday, 17 Oct 2011 01:58 PM

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The Keystone pipeline that would carry crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast has put President Barack Obama in the middle of two key support groups. On one side are unions who view the pipeline as a massive jobs project, and on the other, environmental groups who oppose it, The Washington Post reports.

The proposed pipeline, which would originate in Canada’s Alberta province, has spawned protests, advertising campaigns, and lobbying efforts. Because the pipeline would cross international borders, the State Department is in charge of the permit process, the Post reported.

“This project represents a collision of multiple national interests and multiple political interests,” P.J. Crowley, who was spokesman for the State Department during part of the review process, told the Post.

“Energy security and environment normally go together, but in this case they are somewhat at odds. All have come together to make this a bigger deal than it might have appeared at first blush.”

The Brookings Institution’s Charles Ebinger told the Post that the issue has “become a test case for the Democrats,” with both sides wondering which side Obama will choose.

The approval process got under way in 2008. Oil companies such as Shell, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron, support the plan either because they will be extracting the oil from the oil sands or because they have refineries in the Gulf. Unions, such as the Teamsters, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and those representing laborers, plumbers, and pipefitters, favor the pipeline, projecting that it could create as many as 20,000 high paying jobs, the Post reported.

Environmentalists oppose the project, likening oil extraction from oil sands to strip mining and some donors have threatened to withhold campaign contributions unless Obama kills the project. A decision by the State Department is expected by the end of the year, the Post reported.


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