The United States government has finally rejected the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, which was intended to ship crude oil from the Alberta oil sands of Canada down to the southern coast of the US, reported Reuters.
On Friday, President Barack Obama announced that the project would not be going ahead, explaining that shipping “dirtier” Canadian crude across the US would not mean cheaper gasoline or increased energy security for Americans.
“The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy,” Obama told a press conference, flanked by Vice President Jo Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.
The decision came as a disappointment to TransCanada, which had been pushing for the project since first filing an application for a presidential permit in 2008. Cancellation of the pipeline, which was aimed at shipping 800,000 barrels of crude per day, will make the exploitation of Canada’s oil sands more difficult.
Keystone XL had become a rallying point for environmentalists, who saw it as a test of their ability to hinder the extraction of oil from Canada’s oil sands, part of a wider push to reduce global dependence on fossil fuels.
In rejecting the proposal, Obama made reference to the need for a transition to a clean-energy economy. “If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now,” said Obama.
Since Friday’s announcement, TransCanada and others in the Canadian oil industry has been mulling their next move, according to CBC News.
The company is considering making a new application, in the hope that the next president of the US might be more sympathetic to the project. In the mean time, there is discussion on whether to “fan the flames” of the issue during the 2016 presidential election, or “just keep mum”.
One option for the company would be the proposed Energy East pipeline, which would take crude to Canada’s east coast. However, that project is also likely to run into trouble on environmental grounds.
Adam Smith, climate program director for Environmental Defence Canada, told Reuters, “The arguments for rejecting Keystone XL apply to Energy East even more so – there’s more oil and the risk of tankers (transporting oil) on the east coast of Canada.”