By Rob Capriccioso
The State Department, charged with overseeing transnational economic developments, confirmed the rejection on January 18. Officials there also made clear that the Obama administration will allow the company that owns the pipeline, TransCanada, to reapply for a permit to build through the U.S. after it develops an alternate route around Nebraska’s Sandhills.
“Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “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.
“This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people,” Obama added.
By Clayton Thomas-Muller
“I say miigwetch, thank you, to the Creator for giving President Obama and the U.S. Department of State the courage, strength and wisdom to deny the presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Lifting up this issue as a Native rights issue bringing our tribal grassroots and governmental leaders together with environmentalist and private land owners of the prairie lands sent a message loud and clear that this was the right thing to do,” said Marty Cobenais, lead pipeline organizer with IEN.
Debra White Plume, a grandmother of the Oglala Lakota Oyate who was arrested in the Washington DC protest of the pipeline says, “Rejection of the Keystone XL oil pipeline is a reason to celebrate! At least that source of contamination that was a threat of our drinking water sources, the Missouri River, and the Ogallala Aquifer has been removed. Now we just have to stop the uranium mining that is poisoning the aquifer every day.”
“President Obama and the State Department deserve our thanks for having the foresight and courage to reject the permit application for the pipeline. The stated number of jobs on the project was so inflated that it started to outweigh the health, environmental and climate impacts being experienced by the Cree, Dene and Métis communities living downstream from the tar sands in Canada. In any of these carbon intense fossil fuel developments, and its pipeline infrastructures, economic externality costs have to be thoroughly assessed,” said Pat Spears, President of Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, based in South Dakota. “In the Northern Plains our tribes have alternatives for clean renewable energy.”
“This is one battle won for our Mother Earth,” said Clayton Thomas-Muller, campaign coordinator with IEN Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign. “Other pipeline battles linked to the Canadian tar sands continue. We remain vigilant in our work with First Nations in Canada and grassroots leaders to halt the tar sands. We are working with activists in British Columbia to stop the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, and other pipelines throughout Canada.”