State Department report paves way for Keystone; environmental backlash grows

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“What they are saying is that regardless of what they do, the tar sands are going to be developed anyway, so they’re saying the no-action alternative will have no impact, which is ludicrous,” said Damon Moglen, who heads the climate and energy program at Friends of the Earth, which has long fought against Keystone.

Like many reporters trying to make sense of the 2,000-page report over the weekend, Mr. Moglen said he found the analysis “incredibly unwieldy and difficult to read.”

Its complexity notwithstanding, Republicans are holding up the study as more evidence that the pipeline should be approved immediately.

“There is no reason for this critical pipeline to be blocked one more day,” said House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. “After four years of needless delays, it is time for President Obama to stand up for middle-class jobs and energy security and approve the Keystone pipeline.”

The findings “confirm what we already knew — this pipeline is safe and in the best interest of the American people,” reads a joint statement by Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Committee of Energy and Commerce, and Rep. Ed Whitfield, Kentucky Republican and chairman of the House subcommittee on energy and power.

“There are no legitimate reasons not to move forward on the landmark jobs project,” the two Republicans said, again making the case that Keystone is an economic issue, not just a matter of energy production.

While environmental groups are trashing the study, pro-U.S. energy independence groups have found themselves in a new position: applauding the administration for what they view as a job well done.

“The document clearly shows the project will have minimal environmental impacts,” said Michael Whatley, executive vice president of the Consumer Energy Alliance, adding that the study is “one of the most thorough and pragmatic project reviews in our nation’s history.”

He also said the report “clearly refutes this false choice” put forth by environmentalists that either the White House will safeguard the environment or build the pipeline.

Mr. Obama initially tried to delay a decision on Keystone until after last year’s elections and then, when forced to make a final decision by a law passed by Congress, he rejected an application by the private firms that would carry out actual construction on the project.

A new application has since been submitted and approved by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman after the pipeline route was adjusted to avoid the most sensitive areas of his state.

State Department officials stressed on Friday that their findings are preliminary and will now go through public comments and a review phase, which could last for several months.

A final determination on the Keystone application is expected later this year, but it’s unlikely it will come before summer.

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About the Author
Guy Taylor

Guy Taylor

Guy Taylor is the National Security Team Leader at The Washington Times, overseeing the paper’s State Department, Pentagon and intelligence community coverage. He’s also a frequent guest on The McLaughlin Group and C-SPAN.

His series on political, economic and security developments in Mexico won a 2012 Virginia Press Association award.

Prior to rejoining The Times in 2011, his work was ...

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