US President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Friday, ending a seven-year application process that had sharply divided oil and environmental interest groups.
Approval for the controversial TransCanada project to transport over 800,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries and ports in Texas had been pending since 2008.
It had been at the centre of fierce debates between those who thought the pipeline would inject money into the economy and create jobs, and those who thought it would lead to hundreds of billions of tonnes more GHG emissions by opening up more of the oil sands for investment.
Obama played down both interpretations.
“(Keystone was) neither a silver bullet for the economy nor the express lane to climate disaster claimed by others,” he said at a webcast White House briefing.
A decision over the pipeline was subject to repeated delay since being rejected in 2012 and rerouted around a sensitive area of Nebraska.
More than half of the 100-member US Senate had urged Obama to approve Keystone following the revision but a drilling boom with US fields and a slump in oil prices had made the project less pivotal both in its job creation and for US energy security.
A requested filed by TransCanada to delay its application, which many observers said was part of a strategy to try to get the pipeline approved should a Republican president take office from 2017, was rejected by the US government earlier this week.