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Council of Canadians applauds US President Obama’s veto of Keystone XL pipeline

The Council of Canadians outside the White House, November 2011.

The Council of Canadians outside the White House, November 2011.

The Council of Canadians welcomes US President Barack Obama’s veto of Congressional legislation to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and further encourages him to fully reject the pipeline.

The New York Times reports, “President Obama on Tuesday rejected an attempt by lawmakers to force his hand on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, using his veto pen to sweep aside one of the first major challenges to his authority by the new Republican Congress. With no fanfare and a 104-word letter to the Senate, Mr. Obama vetoed legislation to authorize construction of a 1,179-mile pipeline that would carry 800,000 barrels of heavy petroleum a day from the oil sands of Alberta to ports and refineries on the Gulf Coast.”

The article adds, “By rejecting the legislation, Mr. Obama retains the right to make a final judgment on the pipeline on his own timeline. …The White House has said the president will decide whether to allow the pipeline when all of the environmental reviews are completed in the coming weeks.”

Commenting on the veto, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said, “This is not a debate between Canada and the U.S.; it’s a debate between the president and the American people, who are supportive of the project. It is not a question of if this project will be approved; it is a matter of when.”

But this is more likely bravado than fact. The New York Times also notes, “In recent months, the environmental activists — who have spent years marching, protesting and getting arrested outside the White House in their quest to persuade Mr. Obama to reject the project — have said they are increasingly optimistic that their efforts will succeed.” And the CBC adds, “A presidential veto can be overridden if a bill gets two-thirds majority in both chambers of Congress — the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell indicated the Senate would start the process to try and override the veto by March 3. But it’s unlikely Republicans can get enough support in both chambers to do that.”

The Council of Canadians has travelled to Washington, DC on at least three occasions to join protests against the Keystone XL pipeline, including calling on the Canadian embassy in August 2011 to demand that they stop lobbying for the pipeline, participating in the Surround the White House action in November 2011, and the Forward on Climate protest in February 2013. A 5-minute video of Barlow’s speech outside the White House on this issue can be watched here. More marches and petitions are being planned and the Council of Canadians will also support those efforts.

The Council of Canadians has also formally asked President Obama to reject TransCanada’s Upland pipeline. That pipeline would ship 70,000 barrels per day of oil from North Dakota to join with the 1.1 million barrels per day Energy East pipeline in Saskatchewan.

Photo: The Council of Canadians outside the White House, November 2011.