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WIN! Obama rejects Keystone XL pipeline!

The Council of Canadians outside the White House, November 2011.The Council of Canadians welcomes US President Barack Obama’s rejection of the TransCanada Keystone XL 830,000 barrels per day pipeline.

CBC reports, “The Obama administration rejected TransCanada’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, capping a seven-year saga that became an environmental flashpoint in both Canada and the U.S. Speaking from the White House, Obama said Keystone ‘will not serve the national interests of the United States’.”

Filling the Keystone XL pipeline with tar sands crude would have caused a 36 per cent increase from current tar sands production and increased greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 22 million tonnes a year. The 1,897 kilometre pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Houston, Texas would have also crossed numerous waterways and put drinking water at risk.

In his comments this morning, President Obama noted that Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau had expressed his “disappointment” in the decision against the pipeline.

The Council of Canadians celebrates the defeat of the Keystone XL pipeline. We travelled to Washington, DC on at least three occasions to join protests against the 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.

In terms of what might happen next, CBC reports, “The Calgary-based energy giant [could] try to recoup the more than $2 billion US it says it has already spent on the project’s development. Earlier in the year, the company left the door open to suing the U.S. government under NAFTA.” Last November, Globe and Mail columnist Barrie McKenna wrote, “If Mr. Obama rejects Keystone, Ottawa should dust off NAFTA, file a formal trade challenge and demand the free trade in energy that the deal was supposed to deliver.” And it’s not just McKenna who has argued this, so have Terence Corcoran in a commentary in the Financial Post (backed by trade lawyer Lawrence Herman) and Carleton University professor Fen Osler Hampson (in a Globe and Mail op-ed co-authored with Canada-US Free Trade Agreement negotiator and TransCanada Board member Derek Burney).

In the lead-up to the COP 21 climate talks, the Council of Canadians has been making the argument that the climate agreement reached in Paris should have a provision in it that protects it from investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) challenges like the one that could now be launched by TransCanada through NAFTA against the United States.

The Council of Canadians is also participating in Climate Welcome actions today and calling on Trudeau to reject an expansion of the tar sands and new pipelines.

To watch a 5-minute video of Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow’s speech at a November 2011 rally near the White House against Keystone XL, play below or click here.