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The U.S. Department of State and President Obama, if only temporarily, handed out a big victory for human health and the environment this afternoon by rejecting the proposed permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
In the tense moments leading to the Congressional Christmas recess, Republicans attached a rider to the payroll tax cut extension calling for a sped-up, 60-day review process of the pipeline to leverage President Obama into approving the project. By attaching the pipeline review to a politically charged piece of legislation designed to extend a two-percentage-point payroll tax cut in addition to providing a reduction in Medicare payments to doctors and desperately needed extensions for unemployment benefits, Republicans ostensibly had the perfect mechanism to force a decision on Keystone XL in the favor of Big Oil.
This afternoon, the Department of State recommended to President Obama that he reject the presidential permit based upon insufficient time for a proper review and insufficient evidence that the construction of the pipeline is in the national interest. President Obama agreed.
"Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline," said President Obama. "As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree."
"Today is a significant day and I applaud the Obama administration for rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline," said Stefanie Penn Spear, executive director of EcoWatch. "It's time our policy makers take the proper steps forward and encourage investment in renewable energy, eliminate subsidies for the fossil fuel industry and hold them accountable for the externalized costs they impose upon the American people."
To read the official announcement from the U.S. Department of State, click here.
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