Despite continued public outcry and analysis that shows oil spills will be inevitable, the Obama administration today granted construction permits for part of the Keystone XL pipeline that passes through Texas. Making good on promises made during the President’s “All of the Above” energy tour, the approval was fast-tracked in an effort to relieve an oil supply bottleneck in Oklahoma.
TransCanada, the company that proposed the Keystone XL, is thrilled with the news. “We continue to believe that we will be in a position to begin construction later this summer and are working with the Corps and others to secure the approvals and permits we require,” the company said in a statement. “Once the gulf coast project is completed, it will help move both Canadian and American oil to refineries on the gulf coast, where it is critically needed.”
Ideally, TransCanada would like to build a 1,700-mile pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast. The total Keystone XL would cross through thousands of miles of farmland and delicate wildlife habitats, putting water supplies and agricultural land at risk for contamination. Tar sands oil is one of the dirtiest forms of fuel on the planet, and a major contributor to wildlife devastation and greenhouse gas emissions.
What’s not mentioned, of course, is that once it arrives at the Gulf Coast most of the oil will be shipped to overseas markets, having little to no effect on fuel prices here in the U.S. Lower gas prices and the creation of much-needed jobs have both been touted as reasons to build the massive Keystone XL, but both have been shown to be less than legitimate. In fact, just last month, analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council showed that the pipeline is more likely to increases prices at American gas stations.
Late last year, thousands of protesters staged a sit-in against the Keystone XL on the doorstep of the White House. The action was meant to remind President Obama of his campaign promise to speed progress of renewable energy and reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels. Thankfully, permits to build the northernmost sections of the pipeline are still on hold until the President can conduct a more thorough environmental review. But with each small concession, it becomes harder and harder to imagine it will actually be rejected altogether.
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