TransCanada Begins Construction on Keystone XL, Obama Approves

Christine Irvine, Tar Sands Action/CC BY 2.0

Despite a major popular movement rising up against it—and the denial of its permit by the White House—the Keystone XL is now under construction. No, pesky little details like lacking a permit from the State Department aren’t going to stop TransCanada from building a massive oil pipeline through the heart of the United States. The Canadian corporation has decided to begin construction on the part of the pipeline that doesn’t cross international borders, from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Port Arthur, Texas.

And, to the shock of many of his supporters, Obama endorsed the plan.

Here’s the Guardian:

by splitting the project in two, TransCanada seems to have discovered a workaround to enable pipeline construction to go ahead – and the Obama administration moved swiftly to show it was on board with the plan.

“We support the company’s interest in proceeding with this project, which will help address the bottleneck of oil in Cushing that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production,” the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, told reporters. He said building the pipeline would help create jobs.

Recent polling showed that most Americans approve of the pipeline—though as soon as they learn about its environmental impacts, they overwhelmingly disapprove—and combined with rising gas prices and attacks from the right, Obama has evidently decided to shrink from the fight.

By allowing construction to begin on this segment and postponing comprehensive approval, Obama is trying to protect both his flanks—he’s trying to resist the full-fledged wrath of green groups while simultaneously catering to the right’s “jobs and energy” talking points. But he’s also tacitly suggesting that approval of the entire pipeline is inevitable, and green groups like the Sierra Club are calling the plan “a dirty trick”. One thing is for certain: the nature of the fight has changed, and the anti-pipeline movement will need a new set of tactics—like, perhaps, teaming up with the Tea Party?

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