- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2015

With a decision looming, both sides of the Keystone XL pipeline debate are making last-ditch appeals to President Obama, with opponents saying the project fails the White House’s climate test and supporters arguing it’s a no-brainer that will spur U.S. energy independence and economic growth.

TransCanada, the company proposing the massive Canada-to-Texas oil sands project, this week sent a letter to Secretary of State John F. Kerry, urging the administration to approve the project. The State Department now is undertaking its final review of Keystone and then will make a recommendation to Mr. Obama, who ultimately will render the final decision.

“The proposed Keystone XL project clearly serves the energy security interests of the United States by delivering necessary crude oil supplies from America’s largest and most reliable trading partner America will need this oil for the foreseeable future and Canada is by any measure the best source,” the company said in its letter.

Earlier this year, the president vetoed legislation to approve Keystone. In his veto message, Mr. Obama said he wasn’t making a judgment on the pipeline itself but instead was objecting to interference from Congress before the State Department finished its review.

The president has said his main criteria for deciding to approve or block Keystone is whether it contributes to climate change. An environmental study from the State Department found the project would not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, thereby not accelerating climate change.

But environmentalists are pointing to new data that seem to tell a different story.

A coalition of environmental groups last week circulated a study by the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie saying Canada’s oil-sands region is dependent on new pipelines.

Without such projects, the report says, oil development in western Canada would slow, and the fuel would never be burned.

“Pipelines like Keystone XL are needed for massive climate disrupting tar sands expansion to occur,” said Jim Murphy, senior counsel at the National Wildlife Federation. “Keystone XL and other pipelines are desperately needed by the tar sands industry to get their climate-disrupting, corrosive product to the international market.”

There is no firm timeline on when the State Department will make its recommendation, but Mr. Obama has promised to make a decision on Keystone before he leaves office.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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