Opponents of Keystone XL are optimistic that President Barack Obama will veto the bill passed by Congress that authorizes the oil pipeline.
In fact, Jane Kleeb with Bold Nebraska says she believes the president will fully reject the pipeline.
“We think that you could see the president not only vetoing the Keystone XL bill, but rejecting the presidential permit at the same time,” Kleeb tells Nebraska reporters during a news conference.
Kleeb speculates a decision could come as early as the first week of March.
Congress has approved a bill authorizing construction of the $8 billion pipeline from western Canada to Steele City, Nebraska.
President Obama has promised to veto the bill, arguing that his administration continues to evaluate the proposed request of TransCanada to cross the Canadian/American border. The State Department will evaluate the proposal and make a recommendation to the president.
While that activity takes place in Washington, Nebraska landowners continue to press their lawsuit against TransCanada, seeking to overturn its proposed route through Nebraska and end eminent domain proceedings.
Kleeb says the landowners will seek a Nebraska Supreme Court decision on their lawsuit no matter what the president does. She would like to see the state law ruled unconstitutional and force TransCanada to go back before the Public Service Commission to get a route through Nebraska approved. Kleeb also would like the state to rule a foreign company cannot use eminent domain for private gain.
Kleeb claims the State Department assessment was more detrimental to the pipeline than many have assumed.
“There were elements in the State Department’s report from before where the president could have used it to reject the pipeline and given what the EPA has now submitted to the State Department in their recent review, it further strengthens those arguments,” according to Kleeb.
An assessment released by the EPA suggests that falling oil prices could undermine the feasibility of oil sands production in western Canada without the Keystone XL pipeline.
Ken Winston with the Nebraska Chapter of the Sierra Club sees the EPA assessment as a blow to TransCanada’s case.
“The EPA has definitely pointed out the increased climate risks and the increased water risks in their analysis,” Winston says. “So, that would be a major reason for rejecting it given the president’s climate test; the fact that he said if it will significantly exacerbate the risk of climate change then he would reject it.”
In its letter to the State Department, the EPA acknowledges that the analysis of climate change issues have improved since the first draft of the Department of State’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement while stating “…greenhouse gas emissions from development and use of oil sands crude is about 17% greater than emissions from average crude oil refined in the United States.”