Plans for a controversial oil sands pipeline linking the United States and Canada were dealt a blow yesterday when US President Barack Obama denied permission for the Keystone XL project.
The US Department of State said the Presidential Permit for TransCanada’s 1700mile pipeline wasn’t granted because there had not been “sufficient time” to decide if plans were in the “national interest”.
The pipeline was planned to carry oil from Alberta’s oil sands – which hold the third largest proven reserve in the world – across the border to Texas.
Over the last year Keystone XL attracted huge criticism from environmental campaigners, with thousands gathering at organised protests outside the White House.
US consumer group Green America, which campaigns on environmental and social issues, hailed President Obama’s “brave decision”.
Fran Teplitz at Green America said: “This is the right decision, a brave decision, and one that shows the President took into account profound concerns about the pipeline’s impacts on health, climate change, the environment, and the need to build a clean energy economy that can create lasting U.S. jobs.”
But Russ Girling, TransCanada’s chief executive said thousands of jobs “hang in the balance” if Keystone XL does not go ahead.
He said: “This project is too important to the U.S. economy, the Canadian economy and the national interest of the United States for it not to proceed.”
He added TransCanada planned to reapply for a permit and is still “fully committed” to the project.
An American oil trade body also damned the President for giving in to “political pressure” from “extremist opponents of fossil fuels” at a time when global oil reserves are at risk.
Charles T. Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association said: “It is incredibly unwise of President Obama to reject a steady, secure and reliable supply of oil from our close friend and neighbour Canada at a time when Iran is threatening to choke off a significant portion of global oil supplies.”