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March 8, 2015

President Obama Says He’s Worried About Environmental Impact Of Keystone Pipeline

After vetoing a bill the week before that would have deemed the Keystone XL pipeline approved, President Barack Obama said in a town hall event last week that he remains concerned about the pipeline’s environmental impact. According to Reuters, the president said, “The reason that a lot of environmentalists are concerned about [the project] is the way that you get the oil out in Canada is an extraordinarily dirty way of extracting oil, and obviously there are always risks in piping a lot of oil through Nebraska farmland and other parts of the country.” 

Given the U.S. Senate’s failure last week to override the president’s Keystone veto, the fate of the project now likely rests solely in the president’s hands. (See how your senator voted on the veto override here.) Bloomberg reports President Obama could make his final decision on whether to approve the pipeline within the next few weeks, but also says in an interview the president merely promised he’d make up his mind “before the end” of his administration. 

As a reminder, the U.S. State Department has found the pipeline would not increase greenhouse gas emissions

Meanwhile, if you missed it last week, check out MSCI President and CEO Bob Weidner’s recent statement on the president’s Keystone XL pipeline veto hereWarren Buffett, a key Obama supporter, also opposed the president’s veto based on the effect it would have on the U.S.’s relationship with Canada. He said, “I think that we have an enormous interest in working with Canada, as they have in working with us. That oil is going to get sold. If we make it more difficult for them, who knows how they’ll feel about making things more difficult for us someday.” The Washington Post’s fact checker also said the president’s rationale for vetoing the legislation was misleading. Still interested in reading more on this issue? Karen Harbert, who is president and CEO of the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, explains how denying approval to the Keystone XL pipeline would make the U.S. more dependent on foreign oil – without improving the environment. 

Finally, there may be some hope on the legislative front: some in Congress are willing to try additional measures to give Congress the final say on this issue. According to Politico Pro (subscription required), “Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe said … he's ‘open to trying anything’ to advance Keystone XL, including adding the pipeline's approval to a federal highways and transit bill.” How do you feel about this question? Let us know what you think by emailing MSCI Vice President for Finance and Government Affairs Jonathan Kalkwarf.