The Barack Obama Administration announced Tuesday that it will, via executive order, halt further progress on the highly debated Keystone XL pipeline.
Executive action announced by the Administration asks the State Department not to approve construction on the pipeline unless the Environmental Protection Agency first determines that the project will not lead to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The President’s order, announced during a speech on climate change at Georgetown University, will make it nearly impossible for construction on the pipeline to commence.
Obama has largely avoided discussing the Keystone project, as it put him in the middle of an argument between labor groups in favor of the pipeline and environmentalists opposed to it; both are groups that have supported the Obama Administration.
“As the executive order on Keystone contemplates, the environmental impacts will be important criteria used in the determination of whether the Keystone pipeline application will ultimately be approved at the completion of the State Department decision process,” a senior administration official told Huffington Post. “In today’s speech, the president will make clear that the State Department should approve the pipeline only if it will not lead to a net increase in overall greenhouse gas emissions.”
While the Administration’s criteria for measuring the environmental impact of the pipeline remains unclear, a report out this week addressing the safety of the pipeline concluded that the pipeline would be minimally prone to failure, eliminating a key argument of environmentalists worried of the possibility of inland oil spills.