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(NRDC)
Foes of a 1661-mile pipeline who thought their opposition had bought some time as a consequence of the White House's temporary rejection of the project got a wake-up message today. Just five weeks after the Obama administration was hailed for saying "no" to the Keystone XL pipeline's route through the sand hills of Nebraska, it has green-lighted a $2.3 billion section elsewhere, making clear its ultimate intent. In a statement, Press Secretary Jay Carney said:
The President welcomes today’s news that TransCanada plans to build a pipeline to bring crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Gulf of Mexico. As the President made clear in January, we support the company’s interest in proceeding with this project, which will help address the bottleneck of oil in Cushing that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production, currently at an eight year high. Moving oil from the Midwest to the world-class, state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast will modernize our infrastructure, create jobs, and encourage American energy production. We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to take every step possible to expedite the necessary Federal permits.
The statement also noted that the January decision "in no way prejudged future applications."

TransCanada, the Calgary-based company that is building the pipeline, has said it is seeking an alternate route that presumably would avoid the ecologically sensitive sand hills in Nebraska, where an ad hoc coalition of farmers, businesspeople and environmental advocates joined to fight the project.

Today's announcement can't be considered good news for Julia Trigg Crawford and other northeast Texas landowners who are fighting the pipeline in their region, so far unsuccessfully.

Critics of the pipeline were not happy at today's announcement of the approval of the Oklahoma-to-Texas segment. Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said:

“TransCanada is hell bent on bringing tar sands, the world’s dirtiest oil, through America to reach foreign markets. They can’t wait for a fair, scientific environmental review they know their pipeline would fail. So we see dirty political tricks, dirty PR tricks, and, now, this dirty trick to build the pipeline piecemeal.”
Bill McKibben, who organized and participated in protests at the White House over Keystone in which more than 1000 people were arrested, said:
“Transcanada's decision to build its pipe from Oklahoma to Texas is a nifty excuse to steal some land by eminent domain. It doesn't increase tar sands mining because there's still no pipe across the Canadian border, but it's the usual ugly power grab and land grab by the fossil fuel industry—we'll do what we can to stand by our allies in that arid and beautiful land.”
The decision makes clear the administration believes TransCanada will come up with a new route that it can approve. And that means the real problem, the strip-mining of tar sands to get at that dirty oil, will continue for the foreseeable future. Given that critics say the entire process to obtain and burn tar sands oil generates about twice the CO2 emissions that conventional oil produces, that future will include an atmosphere even more overburdened with carbon than it already is.

•••

h/t to OLinda

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 12:56 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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