WASHINGTON — President Obama took full ownership of the ultimate decision on the Keystone XL pipeline this afternoon in an interview with a Nebraska television station. Links to the president’s comments are below.
Author Bill McKibben, who is spearheading protests against the Keystone XL pipeline with the group Tar Sands Action, had the following reaction to the President’s announcement:
“Only a day ago the President’s press secretary said the State Department would make the call. Now, it’s very good to see the President taking full ownership of this decision and indicating that the environment will be the top priority going forward.
Of course, it’s not just people in Nebraska that are upset about this project. People from all 50 states were arrested in Washington this August protesting the pipeline and they will be coming back to the White House this Sunday because this pipeline is also a conduit for climate change.”
In the interview, President Obama explained that the State Department would be giving him a final report in the coming months and that he would weigh a number of factors, including health and safety, before making a decision whether or not to grant the controversial pipeline the necessary permit for construction.
Pipeline opponents will attempt to completely encircle the White House in a major protest against the Keystone XL pipeline this Sunday, November 6, one year before the 2012 election. Demonstrators will be carrying signs with quotes from President Obama, including ‘Let us be the generation that ends the tyranny of oil’ and others. Actor Mark Ruffalo, Nobel Prize recipient Jody Williams, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and NRDC founder John Adams, and other notable individuals will help lead the protest.
Politico published the President’s full comments on the pipeline on Tuesday afternoon in a story here:
Video of the interview with the President is here, comments on Keystone XL begin around the 1:45 mark:
Here are the President’s full comments on the pipeline:
“The State Department’s in charge of analyzing this, because there’s a pipeline coming in from Canada. They’ll be giving me a report over the next several months, and, you know, my general attitude is, what is best for the American people? What’s best for our economy both short term and long term? But also, what’s best for the health of the American people? Because we don’t want for examples aquifers, they’re adversely affected, folks in Nebraska obviously would be directly impacted, and so we want to make sure we’re taking the long view on these issues.
“We need to encourage domestic oil and natural gas production. We need to make sure that we have energy security and aren’t just relying on Middle East sources. But there’s a way of doing that and still making sure that the health and safety of the American people and folks in Nebraska are protected, and that’s how I’ll be measuring these recommendations when they come to me.”
In response to a question on how the promise of job growth will affect his decision, the President responded,
“It does, but I think folks in Nebraska like all across the country aren’t going to say to themselves, ‘We’ll take a few thousand jobs if it means that our kids are potentially drinking water that would damage their health or rich land that’s so important to agriculture in Nebraska are being adversely affected, because those create jobs, and you know when somebody gets sick that’s a cost that the society has to bear as well. So these are all things that you have to take a look at when you make these decisions.”