|Thousands Protest Keystone Pipeline in Washington March - www.bloomburg.com|
It seems the turning point for Obama to favour such a controversial move could have been the approval of the pipeline lying along more robust regions from the tar sands of Northern Alberta to the US Gulf coast, avoiding fragile areas such as the Sand Hills, home to the Ogallala aquifer; environmental, economic and social costs of an oil spill in such regions are weighed up. Although it is recognised that the President has considered the hazards involved, the decision remains outrageous to many – including activists, the general public and politicians – and, according to former Whitehouse adviser Van Jones, “his legacy could be the worst oil disaster in American farmland history”.
The newly recruited head of the Environment Panel Agency (EPA), Gina McCarthy, is renowned for demanding tougher environmental standards. Obama may struggle to contend with her targets, according to the predicted greenhouse gas emissions from the Keystone XL pipeline. Although the decision is expected to be finalised formally in spring, there are great suspicions that Obama has given the green light already – suggesting the EPA may be too late to turn the tables.
(HuffingtonPost 2013, and The Guardian 2013)
By Ellen Kane, Action 21 volunteer