“The State Department has decided that the Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the national interests of us, and I agree with that decision,” Obama said.
Obama, speaking from the White House Roosevelt Room, said plans for the Keystone Pipeline “would neither be a silver bullet for our economy,” nor would it be “an express lane for climate disaster.” He said he was not convinced that the pipeline would make a significant contribution to the American economy.
On Wednesday, the State Department denied requests by TransCanada Corp. to delay the nearly seven-year review of the proposed oil pipeline that would carry crude oil sands through a 1,200 mile network stretching from Canada to Nebraska.
“I had the opportunity to speak with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and he expressed his disappointment,” he said. But the two countries agreed on plans “to work in even closer coordination with our countries moving forward” to address climate change, Obama explained.
The president's announcement is seen as a victory for environmentalists who have viewed the pipeline as a global warming threat and a health hazard for people living along the pipeline route. Addressing climate change has been a top priority for Obama during his second term. In August, the White House announced plans to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants with Obama's “Clean Power Plan.”
The Keystone XL pipeline was supported by Republicans and the oil industry, who believed the pipeline would create thousands of construction jobs and decrease America’s dependence on oil imports from the Middle East. Obama vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act put on his desk by a bipartisan group of Senators in February, saying he needed appropriate time to consider “issues that could bear on our national interest -- including our security, safety, and environment.”
In his statement, Obama noted his energy accomplishments, including a reduction in gas prices and reliance on "dirty fossil fuels," and underscored his plan to reduce oil imports by half by the year 2020.
"The United States is leading on climate change," he said. "But most of all leaving our kids a cleaner, safer, planet at the same time."