This morning, Nov. 6, President Obama made a largely symbolic gesture when he rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, after all the price of gas and oil has fallen so much that the project didn’t make sense anymore. But it’s a first for a U.S. President in rejecting such a large, fossil fuel industry project and it will likely be seen as a legacy action that shows Obama was an environmental advocate.
“Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security,” Obama stated in issuing the rejection. “What has increased America’s energy security is our strategy over the past several years to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world.”
“Today, the United States of America is leading on climate change with our investments in clean energy and energy efficiency,” Obama asserted. “America is leading on climate change with new rules on power plants that will protect our air so that our kids can breathe. America is leading on climate change by working with other big emitters like China to encourage and announce new commitments to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.”
Obama also observed the increasing roll clean energy is playing in the U.S. economy. “Our biggest and most successful businesses are going all-in on clean energy,” Obama said. “Thanks in part to the investments we’ve made, there are already parts of America where clean power from the wind or the sun is finally cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.”
The President expressed realism though, too. “Now, the truth is, the United States will continue to rely on oil and gas as we transition—as we must transition—to a clean energy economy. That transition will take some time. But it’s also going more quickly than many anticipated. Think about it. Since I took office, we’ve doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas by 2025; tripled the power we generate from the wind; multiplied the power we generate from the sun 20 times over.”
The move was hailed by environmentalists. “We’re on the cusp of a paradigm shift. Today, the movement is celebrating and tomorrow we’re back to the hard work of building a just and sustainable world. If you’re a fossil fuel dinosaur, the meteor is coming,” quipped Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard.
“President Obama is the first world leader to reject a project because of its effect on the climate. That gives him new stature as an environmental leader, and it eloquently confirms the five years and millions of hours of work that people of every kind put into this fight. We’re still awfully sad about Keystone south and are well aware that the next president could undo all this, but this is a day of celebration,” said environmental advocate and 350.org Co-Founder Bill McKibben.
“This is a big win. President Obama’s decision to reject Keystone XL because of its impact on the climate is nothing short of historic—and sets an important precedent that should send shockwaves through the fossil fuel industry,” added 350.org Executive Director May Boeve. “Just a few years ago, insiders and experts wrote us off and assured the world Keystone XL would be built by the end of 2011. Together, ranchers, tribal nations, and everyday people beat this project back, reminding the world that Big Oil isn’t invincible–and that organized people can win over organized money.”
It’s feasible that the next or a future President could allow the project if it’s reintroduced. But that would again take years.Tweet