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Obama spoke at the TransCanada Stillwater pipe yard in Cushing, Oklahoma about the Keystone XL pipeline and his energy policies. Mandel Ngan/Getty Images. Obama spoke at the TransCanada Stillwater pipe yard in Cushing, Oklahoma about the Keystone XL pipeline and his energy policies. Mandel Ngan/Getty Images.  

Keystone approval seems unlikely

President Obama announced Tuesday that the State Department may only approve the Keystone XL pipeline if it does not significantly boost carbon dioxide emissions.

“Our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution,” Obama said at Georgetown University, laying out his new plan to tackle global warming. “The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”

Some observers on both sides of the debate believe that Obama’s new plan to reduce carbon emissions likely means that the administration will not approve the Keystone pipeline.

“Today’s announcement also makes me think it’s more likely the White House will reject the Keystone Pipeline, which is the biggest environmental battle in a generation — the president is a logical man, and taking two steps forward only to take two back would make no sense,” said 350.org founder and environmentalist Bill McKibben. “The world desperately needs climate leadership, and today Barack Obama showed he might turn out to be the guy who provided it.”

“I do not expect them to approve the Keystone pipeline as long as he is president,” Institute for Energy Research president Thomas Pyle told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “There’s no reason [for Obama] to give on the pipeline when he holds all the cards on that as well.”

Environmentalists have made the Keystone pipeline the centerpiece of their campaign to curb carbon dioxide emissions, arguing that the pipeline would exacerbate global warming while also damaging the environment.

However, a State Department review from earlier this year found that the pipeline would have little impact on the environment or global warming. But the Environmental Protection Agency undercut the review, arguing that State needed to take a harder look at the environmental and warming impacts of the pipeline.

Pyle told the TheDC News Foundation that the exchange between the two government agencies could open up the process to legal challenges by environmental groups opposed to the pipeline.

The Sierra Club already announced it was suing the State Department for documents related to the Keystone review, which the environmental group argues the government is withholding.

Sierra alleged that the consultants used to conduct the analysis had a conflict of interest due to “financial ties to the pipeline company and the American Petroleum Institute, one of Keystone XL’s most active and vocal lobbyists.”

The oil and gas industry have joined Republican lawmakers in calling on the president to approve the pipeline, arguing it will create jobs and bring the country closer to energy independence.

“We hope his statement means the State Department will immediately approve the pipeline, since several environmental reviews have concluded that building Keystone XL will lead to fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than if we did not build it,” said Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.

“Moving ahead on this project is critical for creating thousands of jobs, as well as maintaining and strengthening America’s national and economic security,” Drevna added.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, the Keystone XL pipeline would bring in more than 800,000 barrels of oil per day into the U.S. and create 20,000 jobs during the life of the project.

The pipeline has been waiting for approval for more than four years. A decision is expected later this summer.

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