Obama won't delay decision on Keystone XL Pipeline permit

Tribal members showed their opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline during President Barack Obama's visit to Watertown, South Dakota, in May 2015. Photo from Indigenous Environmental Network

President Barack Obama won't suspend review of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, the White House said on Tuesday.

Obama intends to make a decision before he leaves office in January 2017, spokesperson Josh Earnest said. He won't delay consideration despite a request from TransCanada, the Canadian firm behind the project.

“It seems unusual to me that somehow it should be paused yet again,” Earnest told reporters during a daily press briefing at the White House.

In seeking a delay, TransCanada said it needed more time to secure approval of Nebraska portion of the route. But critics believe the firm wants to wait until a new president comes on board.

"We see this as a last ditch effort for the TransCanada corporation to avoid a rejection of its presidential permit application and is a clear stall strategy that hopes for a supportive President from the 2016 elections," Tom Goldtooth, the executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, said in a statement.

The proposed pipeline would run 1,179 miles and cross eight states. The route through Nebraska has been the most contentious due to opposition from farmers, ranchers, property owners and tribes.

Tribes oppose the pipeline due to concerns about treaty rights, sacred sites and the environment. The route in South Dakota, for example, runs through treaty-protected territories.

"Tribal Nations of the Oceti Sakowin have reiterated their opposition to the KXL pipeline in defense of their ancestral homelands, including but not limited to the territory of the Great Sioux Nation, as recognized in the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868," Goldtooth said. "Standing in solidarity with tribal governments and traditional treaty councils of the Oceti Sakowin, we ask the State Department to refuse TransCanada’s request to delay this application and ask President Obama to take the opportunity to reject this pipeline once and for all!”

TransCanada submitted its application to the Department of State in September 2009. It has been under review for a far longer period than other similar projects, the Associated Press reported in August.

Get the Story:
Obama will decide on Keystone pipeline before he leaves office (The Washington Post 11/4)
Obama Won’t Yield to Company’s Bid to Delay Keystone Pipeline Decision (The New York Times 11/4)
TransCanada denies politics behind Keystone delay request (AP 11/3)

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