End of the line: Nebraska governor officially approves Keystone XL pipeline; Update: State Dept still not quite ready to decide

posted at 1:11 pm on January 22, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Well, now — President Obama’s several eminent statements about his revived commitment to really do something about climate change during his inaugural speech on Monday are about to be put to the immediate test. As expected, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has approved the revised Keystone XL pipeline proposal through his state after a positive environmental review, meaning that the Obama administration’s last, best readily available excuse for continuing to punt on the project is dunzo:

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman notified the Obama administration Tuesday that he has approved the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline to traverse his state, marking a significant step toward reviving the project after President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sidelined it.

The governor approved a revised route for the Canada-to-Texas pipeline which his office said would avoid environmentally sensitive areas.

Environmental groups lost no time in seizing on the president’s second inaugural remarks yesterday to remind him that he should flatly reject the environmentally innocuous and economy-growing pipeline that the greenies have successfully managed to turn into a highly controversial issue:

Environmental groups hailed Obama’s new focus on climate change but said the president’s words will soon be tested as he decides whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

Obama blocked the pipeline last year, citing uncertainty over the project’s route through environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska. The State Department has federal jurisdiction because the $7 billion pipeline begins in Canada. …

“Starting with rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, the president must make fighting global warming a central priority,” Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America, said Monday.

Alt and other environmental leaders said they are counting on Obama to set tough limits on carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants and to continue federal investments in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

The State Department is all set to conclude yet another of their reviews of the project, so now it’s only a question of which path-of-wrath President Obama will choose: Inflaming the green lobby by giving the green light to one of their most highly detested items of protest; or thwarting American economic growth, job creation, and energy security (all of which the president proclaims are on his own list of goals) by rejecting the use of oil sands that will then just be bought up and used by the Chinese anyway.

There were reports that now-erstwhile EPA chief Lisa Jackson resigned in protest over the president leaning toward inevitably approving the pipeline (I told you — the eco-zealots really hate this thing), but President Obama certainly led with his chin on the climate-change talk yesterday. Whether that was just some grandiose verbosity or a hint at his real intentions, we should find out shortly.

Update: But not that shortly.

The Obama administration has delayed a decision on TransCanada Corp’s rerouted Keystone XL oil pipeline until after March, even though Nebraska’s governor said on Tuesday he approved a plan for a section of the line.

“We don’t anticipate being able to conclude our own review before the end of the first quarter of this year,” said Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman at the State Department, which had previously said it would make a decision before the end of March.

The State Department will rule on a final permit for the $5.3 billion northern section of the line being planned by TransCanada because it would cross the national border.


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