President Barack Obama on Friday rejected the request to build the Keystone XL pipeline, ending a seven-year congressional push to approve the permit — and disappointing nine Senate Democrats who voted across party lines to authorize construction of the project.
Under the plan, a Canadian company would build a 1,179-mile pipeline, which would have carried 800,000 barrels of carbon-heavy petroleum from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Citing environmental concerns and refuting claims that the project would be a boon to job growth, Obama said “the pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy.”
But Sen. Heudi Heitkamp of North Dakota, one of the nine Democrats who voted in favor of the legislation in January to approve the program, disagreed with the president’s decision. She said his decision on Friday is “purely driven by politics that ignored the facts.”
“This commonsense project is just one small piece of a much larger energy strategy, but it has grown into a symbol for whether our country will support needed energy infrastructure,” said Heitkamp in a statement released moments after the president's announcement. "As I have said time and time again — it’s a pipeline. ... We need to work together to rise above partisan rhetoric, deal in real facts ... and see the Keystone pipeline for what it really is."
Other Democratic lawmakers who supported the Keystone legislation were Michael Bennet of Colorado, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.
The Democrats have long argued that the Keystone project would create thousands of U.S. jobs in construction and manufacturing.
Sen. Jon Tester of Montana said earlier this year that the pipeline program would “make our nation more energy secure” and create jobs in his state. But he emphasized that Keystone is "not the only solution for our energy future."
Warner, who co-sponsored the Senate bill, had previously said the pipeline would not pose a threat to the environment, a position that advocates disagree with.
“A State Department environmental review found the project will not significantly add to global warming, it will create jobs (though likely not as many as supporters claim), and it will allow the U.S. to increase its energy security,” he said in a statement last year, after Senate failed to get a majority vote.
MsCaskill believes that Keystone would not only help the economy grow, but also “strengthen our national security."
“If we’re going to eliminate our reliance on oil from unfriendly regimes like Iran and Venezuela, then Keystone is a helpful step,” she wrote in a blog post in January.
She added that the program would “provide a safer, more reliable method” of transporting oil through the country, than using trains or trucks, “where more accidents take place.”
Casey told MSNBC on Friday in a statement that the Obama administration "has made its decision and it's time to move on."
The Senate voted 62-36 in January to approve the Keystone XL pipeline program. No Republicans voted against it. GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio was absent. President Obama later rejected the approved legislation for the third time during his six years in office.