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Jan. 18, 2012

Obama’s Rejection of Keystone Permit Sends Message to Big Oil: Main Street’s Interests Trump Your Profits

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

Public Citizen applauds President Barack Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. The Keystone pipeline is not about improving U.S. energy security. It’s more about padding Big Oil’s profits by exporting more refined petroleum products than protecting Main Street.

Today’s announcement delivers a well-deserved blow to a project that would shuttle dirty tar-sands oil through America’s heartland for export to the global market, and it defies political threats issued by Big Oil and its cronies in Congress.

The current Keystone XL pipeline proposal would transport the dirtiest oil in the world through America’s largest freshwater aquifer, risking a major oil spill and causing dangerous pollutants to be released into the air during the refining process. This risk is not remote. TransCanada’s first tar-sands pipeline leaked 12 times in its first year of operation, despite the company’s estimation that it would leak just once in 14 years.

President Obama’s decision to send this proposal back to the drawing board acknowledges the unacceptable risks posed to citizens living near the pipeline’s path. 

However, we will continue to work toward a definitive determination that acknowledges the pipeline is not in the national interest – crude oil from the pipeline could drive up domestic gas prices and would contribute to rapid climate change that threatens our health and our pocketbooks – but would only serve the interest of Big Oil.

Big Oil is taking its interest very seriously. The American Petroleum Institute could not have been clearer two weeks ago in threatening “political consequences” for President Obama if the pipeline was not approved.

Fortunately, the president has taken a stand against the oil industry and its paid campaign of lies about jobs and energy security. This is the president’s opportunity to start to end the tyranny of oil and start moving toward a new energy economy that protects the climate, creates jobs and respects the health of our families. 

Another oil pipeline is simply not a fix for America’s energy needs. Clean energy is what will give us real relief from rising gas prices, bring security and build long-lasting good jobs.

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