Today, President Obama's administration rejected TransCanada’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would have shipped oil from Canada’s tar sands into the United States.
"The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers. In fact, gas prices have already been falling steadily,” the President said during a press briefing. "Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security."
Earlier this week, TransCanada asked the federal government to suspend the review of the project, a move that was widely speculated to be an attempt to avoid today’s outright rejection. That request was quickly denied. The application has been under review by the State Department, who today recommended the rejection of the proposal first put forward seven years ago.
The timing of the decision is likely strategic, as the President prepares for the upcoming international climate change talks in Paris next month. Along with his clean power plan, rejecting the highly visible project helps Obama maintain his image as a leader on climate change issues.
Of course, the rejection of the pipeline won’t end dirty tar sands extraction, any more than it will fix climate change. President Obama’s remarks reflected his sentiment that the importance of the pipeline has been overblown, stating that Keystone was “neither a sliver bullet for the economy” nor “the express lane to climate disaster.”
But the Keystone XL pipeline has long stood as an important symbol, representing a new phase in thinking about climate change. It was one of the first targets in the strategy of protesting new fossil fuel infrastructure, and its prominence and dragged-out fight has given it real importance to the environmental movement.
Let’s celebrate this one.