In a clear sign that President Obama recognizes that Hillary Clinton is too compromised by conflict of interest given the web of crony tar sands lobbyists around her to make the decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, Obama announced today that he will make the call personally. And some of his comments in an interview this afternoon indicate that he has serious reservations about the Keystone XL and the thought of the U.S. making a long-term commitment to Canada's filthy tar sands oil.
Obama made the announcement about taking personal responsibility for the Keystone XL decision during an interview with Nebraska's KETV NewsWatch 7. Interviewer Rob McCartney asked, “how do you weigh any potential negative impact with the jobs that it may bring in?”
PoliticoPro has the transcript of the President's remarks, excerpted here (and corrected in a few spots):
“The State Department's in charge of analyzing this, because there's a pipeline coming in from Canada,” Obama told KETV’s Rob McCartney in the White House. “They'll be giving me a report over the next several months, and, you know, my general attitude is, what is best for the American people? What’s best for our economy both short term and long term? But also, what's best for the health of the American people? Because we don’t want, for example, aquifers that are adversely affected, folks in Nebraska obviously would be directly impacted, and so we want to make sure that we’re taking the long view on these issues.“We need to encourage domestic natural gas and oil production. We need to make sure that we have energy security and aren’t just relying on Middle East sources. But there’s a way of doing that and still making sure that the health and safety of the American people and folks in Nebraska are protected, and that’s how I’ll be measuring these recommendations when they come to me.”
More from the must-watch KETV interview with President Obama:
“I think folks in Nebraska like all across the country aren’t going to say to themselves, ‘We’ll take a few thousand jobs if it means that our kids are potentially drinking water that would damage their health or if rich land that’s so important to agriculture in Nebraska ends up being adversely affected,’” Obama said, adding, “because those create jobs, and you know, when somebody gets sick that’s a cost that the society has to bear as well. So these are all things that you have to take a look at when you make these decisions.”
Update: Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica had the following response to President Obama’s remarks:
“This appears to be major and welcome news. The State Department’s pipeline review has been hopelessly corrupted. President Obama taking the reins would mean we once again have a shot at a fair process. If the scope and severity of the threats posed by the pipeline are accurately understood, it will be obvious to President Obama that the costs far outweigh the benefits and that he must reject it.”
Stay tuned, there will surely be more developments on this news, especially in the lead up to Tar Sands Action returning to the White House on November 6th.
In the meantime, here are a couple of my favorite Barack Obama quotes, one from the campaign and one from last year. Let's hope the President lives up to these words and rejects the Keystone XL pipeline:
“Because after one president in the pocket of the oil companies – we can’t afford another. For the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, we must end the age of oil in our time.” - Barack Obama, Youngstown, Ohio, August 5, 2008“The next generation will not be held hostage to energy sources from the last century. We are not going to move backwards. We are going to move forward.”- President Barack Obama, June 2, 2010