WASHINGTON (TIP): Using third veto of his presidency, President Obama on Tuesday, February 24 rejected an attempt by lawmakers to force his hand on the Keystone XL oil pipeline and swept aside one of the first major challenges to his authority by the new Republican Congress.”Because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest-including our security, safety, and environment-it has earned my veto.”
The veto will set a precedent for more political action in the US in the fight against climate change, resource mis-management and habitat destruction, as well as sending a clear message to big oil and gas that we, the people, no longer wish to partake in the dirty dependency on fossil fuels.
The pipeline was set to cross the nation’s border: stretching almost 1.2k miles from Canada through Montana and North Dakota and ending in Nebraska. This meant that the decision fell squarely under the President’s jurisdiction, rather than Congress’s.
The Republicans wield a slim Senate majority as well as a strong majority in the House. With this knowledge, the Republicans waited to present the legislation to the President’s desk until they were all in session-allowing them to band together to try to condemn and fight against the veto on the floors of the House and Senate.
It’s also important to note that though Republicans may condemn Obama’s brazen use of executive action, George W. Bush actually used his veto power on twelve different occasions: 4 times more than our Democratic President (not to mention, Bush Sr. used his veto power a whopping 44 times). Obama has, in fact, used his power to veto fewer times than any other president in office.
As it stands, the KXL pipeline would have released some of the dirtiest fuel in production (according to leading climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, “the Keystone Pipeline is the fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.”), devastating pristine wilderness and allowing for more desperate attempts at maintaining our dependence on non-renewables.
The oil that would be produced from the KXL pipeline is stripped from tar sands, a type of extraction process that releases 17 percent more greenhouse gases than conventional crude.
Climate scientists are more or less unanimously in full support of the President’s decision, as they maintain the argument that climate change is here to stay and consequences are already devastating our global climates, seasons and natural equilibriums. They argue that in order to combat and mitigate the destruction, we must keep two thirds of the remaining oil in the ground-the tar sands in Alberta, Canada included.
Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said:
“President Obama has taken a stand for America’s wildlife, clean water and stable climate against a polluting project that threatens wildlife every step of the way, from caribou to waterfowl to endangered whooping cranes.”
Yes, it would provide some 3k+ temporary jobs during the construction phase, but would only provide 50 permanent jobs after construction is complete. In terms of giving our economy a boost, the pipeline is not a long-term solution. According to President Obama,
“I think that there’s been this tendency to really hype this thing as some magic formula to what ails the U.S. economy.”
The people have been protesting the pipeline construction for years, and our voices are finally being heard:
Dr. James Hansen is credited for saying that the passage of the Keystone Pipeline would be, “game over” for the environment. Well, as of today with Obama’s veto, it seems more like game on.