President Obama signed the Farm Bill into law Friday in Michigan where he also announced a new “Made in Rural America” initiative designed to boost exports.
But plans to import oil from Canada through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline continues to be a hot potato for the Obama Administration
Canada is America’s top foreign supplier of crude oil, so it’s not surprising that President Obama's initial rejection of the controversial plan went over poorly with our neighbors to the north.
Since the pipeline would cross a U.S. border, the State Department must approve its construction. And late last week, the agency reaffirmed that it has no major environmental objections to the project.
Late last week, the State Department announced that it has no major environmental objections to the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.
The latest review -- the fifth released on the project since 2010 - acknowledges that development of oil sands in Alberta would, in fact, create greenhouse gases. But the report makes it clear that other methods of transporting the oil - including railroads, trucks and barges - would release more pollutants.
Once completed the Keystone Pipeline could transport as much as 850,000 barrels of crude per day from oilfields in Canada and North Dakota to refineries in Texas. The State Department announcement has been sharply criticized by environmentalists who believe the Obama administration’s position is in direct conflict with the president’s promise to fight climate change.
President Obama (State of the Union January 28th, 2014): “The shift -- (applause) -- the shift to a cleaner energy economy won't happen overnight, and it will require some tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.”
The Keystone pipeline has been problematic for Obama, who continues to push green energy alternatives while also advocating an all-of-the-above approach to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.
But the administration also must balance environmental concerns with economic benefits. Over 1,000 miles of new pipeline would need to be built in the United States. Proponents say the project would create thousands of construction jobs and help modernize the aging network of U.S. pipelines.
Lee Weidner, South Dakota Farmer: "Every bit, every bit of gas and diesel fuel that we use in this area, or awful close to every bit of it, comes up from the South in pipelines that are somewhere as near as old as I am."
Farmers and ranchers in the six states the pipeline would cross are mixed in their assessment of risks and rewards.
John Harter, South Dakota Farmer: "TransCanada got the right to this property through eminent domain. I did not sign onto it free and willingly. If it contaminates an area, the impact it could have on that area could be big, as far as jobs lost and people having to move and relocate and such."
Lee Weidner, South Dakota Farmer: "We need the fuel. We need to get away from buying the fuel from overseas."
Obama has pledged not to approve the pipeline if it would mean increasing carbon pollution. While the State Department report seems to have cleared that obstacle, the agency opened a 30-day public comment period this week and the White House is not expected make a final decision regarding the pipeline before May or June.