Washington, D.C. – President Barack Obama on Tuesday vetoed the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline bill. In a quiet, but highly anticipated, signing, the President kept his promise to Congress and the Nation.
TO THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES:
I am returning herewith without my approval S. 1, the “Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act.” Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.
The Presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously. But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety, and environment — it has earned my veto.
Massive Environmental Impact Cited
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a long-standing opponent of the cross-border multi-state project, in a statement after the veto, called for the President to reject the pipeline outright.
“The State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Pipeline Project said there would be massive environmental harm from Keystone’s tar sands oil – the equivalent of adding 6 million vehicles on our highways for 50 years.
They also said that if oil prices stayed above $75 per barrel the environmental harm would happen anyway because the tar sands oil would get out regardless (by train or otherwise),” he said. “With oil prices now below $50 per barrel that’s no longer true, but the fossil fuel industry still insists falsely that the pipeline would have ‘no environmental impact.’
This is the sort of nonsense we have to put up with all the time from the fossil fuel industry and I’m glad the President saw through it and vetoed the bill. Now I hope he will go one step further to protect us from this unnecessary harm by rejecting the pipeline outright.”
Sierra Club Applauds President’s Action
The Sierra Club on Tuesday focusing on potential climate change impacts applauded the President’s veto and were confident in a permanent rejection of the project.
Executive Director, Michael Brune, in written statement said,
“President Obama has also made it clear he will reject the tar sands pipeline if it contributes significantly to the climate crisis. The president has all the evidence he needs to reject Keystone XL now, and we are confident that he will.”
Local Environmentalists Call for Focus on Clean Energy
Abel Collins, South Kingstown Town Council President, blogger, and former programs director for the Rhode Island Sierra Club, appealed for a focus on clean energy initiatives.
“In the time that Congress and the Administration have spent playing politics with this project, which is a certain economic and environmental disaster, we should have been putting a price on carbon and investing in clean energy. While I’m happy President Obama made the right call with his veto, we need to do more than just stop the bad ideas.”
Whitehouse in his comments, went on to speak of job creation and affordable energy.
“Here in the Senate, Republicans concerned about jobs should pass a real jobs bill like Senator Shaheen’s Energy Savings and Industrial Competiveness Act, which would create 5 times more jobs than the Keystone XL project and lower energy costs. It’s a much better bill for energy and for jobs – it just doesn’t do the bidding of the fossil fuel industry, so the Republicans won’t go to it.”