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Bennet disagrees with Obama on ‘over-hyped’ Keystone XL rejection

November 8, 2015, 9:02 am
Sen. Michael Bennet.

Sen. Michael Bennet

Editor’s note: A version of this story first appeared in The Colorado Statesman:

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat facing reelection next year, stood behind his vote earlier this year in favor of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, which the Obama administration finally rejected on Friday after seven years of study and contentious debate.

“For years, the Keystone XL pipeline has been over-hyped on both sides of the debate,” Bennet said in a prepared statement to The Colorado Statesman. “The number of jobs it would create and the amount of carbon emissions it would facilitate have both been exaggerated.”

The proposed 1,200-mile pipeline would have transported 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska and ultimately on to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Bennet voted for a Senate bill approving the project in January.

“Based on scientific analyses that showed building Keystone XL would have little or no bearing on whether our nation will materially address climate change, I voted to move forward with the pipeline,” Bennet added. “The president vetoed the bill that Congress passed and has now administratively rejected the project. This is an issue on which the president and I disagree.”

Secretary of State John Kerry informed the president of his department’s rejection of the project on Friday, exercising his authority because the pipeline would cross an international border. Obama backed Kerry’s decision, saying approval would undermine the leadership of the United States on climate change issues ahead next month’s United Nations climate change conference.

In a White House statement, Obama said he spoke to newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a Liberal Party leader more aligned to the Obama administration’s environmental agenda than previous conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“While he expressed his disappointment, given Canada’s position on this issue, we both agreed that our close friendship on a whole range of issues, including energy and climate change, should provide the basis for even closer coordination between our countries going forward,” Obama said.

At a March campaign event in Denver, Bennet said the tar sands of Alberta will be exploited one way or another and that rejection of the pipeline would not have that great of an impact on global climate change. That’s a position broadly skewered by the Colorado environmental community.

Many of those same groups heaped praise on the Obama administration on Friday.

“The Keystone pipeline was a loser project that only would have taken us backwards at a time when we need to be taking bold action on climate change,” Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith said. “President Obama sent a resounding message that the future of our children and grandchildren and their clean air is more important than the short term profits of polluters.”

Republicans were just as quick to condemn the administration.

“Earlier this year, the Senate made authorization of the Keystone Pipeline our first major legislative initiative of the new Congress,” Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner said. “I was proud to support that effort, and proud of the large bipartisan majority of 62 Senators who voted to authorize construction of the pipeline.

“The president’s decision today has nothing to do with the environment, and everything to do with politics. It is my hope that a future president, acting in accord with the wishes of the United States Congress and the American people, will reverse this misguided choice.”

Republican state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, who has been mentioned as a possible challenger to Bennet next year, told The Colorado Statesman last month that Bennet’s support of the pipeline in the Senate may have inoculated him from oil and gas money flowing into the race.

Colorado Springs Republican Doug Lamborn, the state’s senior GOP congressional delegation member, echoed Bennet’s sentiment that the tar sands oil will still be exploited by Canadian oil producers.

“Today, President Obama hit a new low when it comes to close-minded and narrow thinking,” Lamborn said. “Ironically, the president won’t even be helping his professed goal of reducing carbon emissions, because the Canadians are not foolish enough to let those valuable energy resources lie in the ground unused.”

But left-leaning conservation groups counter that Obama’s decision sends a strong message.

“Today, President Obama rejected more than a single pipeline; he rejected a future in which the country doubles down on the most-polluting fossil fuels available,” said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress. “Development of tar sands crude — the most carbon-intensive oil on the planet — is wholly inconsistent with averting the worst impacts of climate change.”


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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is the editor and co-founder of RealVail.com and has had his awarding-winning work (see About Us) published in more than 75 newspapers and magazines around the world, including 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), the Anchorage Daily Press (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Casper Star Tribune (Wyoming), the Chicago Tribune, Colorado Central Magazine, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Newsline, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Cortez Journal, the Craig Daily Press, the Curry Coastal Pilot (Oregon), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Del Norte Triplicate (California), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Explore Big Sky (Mont.), the Fort Morgan Times (Colorado), the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), the Kingman Daily Miner (Arizona), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the Las Vegas Sun, the Leadville Herald-Democrat, the London Daily Mirror, the Moab Times Independent (Utah), the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), the Montrose Daily Press, The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, the Rio Blanco Herald Times (Colorado), Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), the Salt Lake Tribune, SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Sky-Hi News, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Sterling Journal Advocate (Colorado), the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Health Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail, Westword (Denver), Writers on the Range and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

One Response to Bennet disagrees with Obama on ‘over-hyped’ Keystone XL rejection

  1. ElChupicabra Reply

    November 10, 2015 at 8:52 am

    How many people will stop burning fossil fuel now because this pipeline was scrapped? Does this remove the need to transport oil vast distances by truck, tanker or train?

    The answer to both of these questions is obvious, and anyone with the slightest amount of foresight could see that there is a need for oil beyond burning it. The growing technology sector will need larger amounts of oil to produce plastic for various components.

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