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Obama: Keystone XL wouldn’t serve national interest

After years of consideration, President Obama formally rejected TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline application, which would have permitted oil from Canada's tar sands to flow to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. Though the company and many Republican lawmakers argued it would benefit the economy, Mr. Obama said the project wasn't in line with efforts to combat climate change. Judy Woodruff reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    To many observers, President Obama’s decision on the Keystone pipeline may have seemed like a forgone conclusion.

    But earlier during his term, environmentalists were worried that he would approve it. Climate change, however, has become a central focus of the Obama second term, and it was very much on his mind today when he announced the decision. It was a decision seven years in the making.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    After extensive public outreach and consultation with other cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided the Keystone XL pipeline wouldn’t serve the national interest of the United States. I agree with that decision.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    With that, President Obama formally rejected TransCanada’s application to extend the controversial pipeline. The massive network would have connected oil sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast, adding to existing pipelines. It would have carried 800,000 barrels of oil a day.

    The company, along with many Republican lawmakers in the U.S., argued the project would create thousands of jobs and lower gas prices. But Mr. Obama disagreed, pointing out gas prices are already lower. More importantly, he said, the pipeline wasn’t in line with his administration’s efforts to combat climate change.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    Today, we’re continuing to lead by example, because, ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable, but uninhabitable, in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground, rather than burn them.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    TransCanada quickly condemned the decision, calling it — quote — “misplaced symbolism.”

  • The company’s statement read:

    “It is disappointing the administration appears to have said yes to more oil imports from Iran and Venezuela over oil from Canada, the United States’ strongest ally and trading partner.”

    And even some Democrats in Congress, from states the pipeline would have passed through, criticized the move.

  • Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas:

  • REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D), Texas:

    So, you’re talking about jobs, you’re talking about energy independence. And, all of a sudden, the State Department flip-flops and goes to the other directions. Bottom line, it’s a job creator, and I see that on a day-to-day basis in my district.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    President Obama had faced considerable pressure from the left to act, while he kept his own opinion under wraps.

    Environmental activists staged large protests in front of the White House and demanded he reject the proposal. Today, they called the decision a big win.

    But the fate of the pipeline could change after the 2016 elections if TransCanada reapplies. Several Republican presidential candidates said today they would reverse Mr. Obama’s decision.

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