You have to follow issues arising in the approval of Transcanada’s Keystone XL pipeline closely to understand the latest delay.
Two plus years ago TransCanada realized it had to re-route the path of Keystone to avoid fundamental criticism from environmentalists,. The path originally chosen threatened the Oglala aquifer, a critical source of water in the dry American Midwest.
To expedite a new routing, TransCanada moved quickly, using all legal and commercial means at its disposal. Unfortunately certain Nebraska farmers were not prepared to be steamrollered. They took their case to court, arguing that the methods TransCanada used were improper. Late last fall the court delivered its verdict, siding with the farmers. TransCanada appealed this decision. Sometime later this year or next the Nebraska Court of Appeal will deliver its judgement.
In the meantime, the US State Department has extended the period for its administrative review. Until its final review is completed, President Obama will not decide whether Keystone should be approved.
Supporters of Keystone claim that there is no basis for the decision of the Nebraska Court impacting the President’s decision. The exact location of the US route is a local and not an international matter. These supporters demand that the President decide now, and let TransCanada and the Nebraska farmers proceed with their lawsuit. In due course, objections based on state law will be resolved.
Republican Senators, supported by a handful of Democratic Senators in oil producing states, will attempt to force the President to issue his decision now. They point out that six years have passed since TransCanada first initiative its request for approval, a delay that they consider to be politically motivated. The Republican Party now controls the House of Representatives, and they will leverage that control to the Party’s advantage.
The President does have one advantage. The risks of global warming as a consequence of GHG emissions have been confirmed in recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A further IPCC report is due in the fall. This report will probably emphasize that along with the extraction of fossil fuels, pipeline infrastructure must be scaled back.
It will be clear what those Reports mean: “No to Keystone”!
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