President Obama spoke on U.S. climate change at Georgetown University on Tuesday. In this speech he commented, for the first time in months, on the Keystone XL pipeline which will carry crude oil from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries in the Gulf Coast. For the Keystone pipeline to be approved Obama requires evidence that the pipeline will not “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”
Proponents of the pipeline are heralding this a victory citing the findings of the State Department’s Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Review which asserted that the Keystone pipeline would have a minor impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Canada’s Natural Resource Minister, Joe Oliver agreed, noting that Keystone is unlikely to have a significant impact on the rate of development of the oil sands and its associated greenhouse gas emissions. While environmental group Sierra Club Canada considers President Obama’s speech to be a death sentence for the pipeline, TransCanada’s CEO Russ Girling said he’s confident the Keystone XL pipeline will ultimately be approved.
While President Obama’s speech clothed the fate of Keystone in some ambiguity, a final decision from the State Department on the US$5.3 billion dollar project is expected this fall. Stay tuned!