Saturday, November 12, 2011

Obama sidesteps pipeline controversy

Washington, November 13, 2011(Tehelkanews)

Exemplifying what has now become the classic Barack Obama political manoeuvre the United States President this week deftly avoided stepping any deeper into the festering quagmire of the Canada-U.S. Keystone XL oil pipeline project.

While pro- and anti-pipeline constituencies were getting increasingly hostile and entrenched into their positions, the last few weeks witnessed the issue barrelling towards a climax that would require Mr. Obama to make a major political decision before next November's presidential elections.

At stake is the possibility that close to 35 million gallons a day of "heavy, high-sulphur, toxic bitumen crude" would be transported from Alberta, Canada, to Texas refineries through the Great Plains, also known as the breadbasket of America.

There would likely be a non-negligible probability of a catastrophic spill over the 1,700 miles of the pipeline damaging the water table in, for example, the Sand Hills area of the state of Nevada.

Clearly seeking to avoid any political fallout of a firm commitment to environmental conservation, Mr. Obama however spoke through the State Department, charged with responsibility for this issue.

In a statement on Friday the State Department said, "Taken together with the national concern about the pipeline's route, the Department has determined it is necessary to examine in-depth alternative routes that would avoid the Sand Hills in Nebraska in order to move forward with a National Interest Determination for the Presidential Permit."

The statement further noted that based on its experience with past pipeline project reviews and the time typically required for environmental reviews "It is reasonable to expect that this process including a public comment period... could be completed as early as the first quarter of 2013."

Following these comments Mr. Obama said that the final decision should be guided by an open, transparent process that is informed by the best available science and the voices of the American people.

He added, "At the same time, my administration will build on the unprecedented progress we've made towards strengthening our nation's energy security, from responsibly expanding domestic oil and gas production to nearly doubling the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks, to continued progress in the development of a clean energy economy."

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