Obama on Keystone Pipeline: ‘We Only Have One Planet’

February 20, 2014 - 1:47 AM

Obama Mexico Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, watches as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto speaks to U.S. President Barack Obama, before they speak during the seventh trilateral North American Leaders Summit Meeting in Toluca, Mexico Wednesday Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(CNSNews.com) – President Obama conceded Wednesday that the lengthy process of evaluating whether to move ahead with the Keystone XL oil pipeline was probably viewed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as “a little too laborious” but added that economic growth had to be balanced against environmental concerns, as “we only have one planet.”

In a speech last June Obama said that he would not approve the pipeline from Canada if the project would “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

During a joint press conference with Harper - a strong supporter of Keystone – and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, a Canadian reporter recalled those words and noted that a State Department environmental review has found that the pipeline would not have a significant effect on climate change.

What more needed to be done, the reporter asked.

Obama said he recognized that the process had “been extensive – and at times, I’m sure Stephen feels, a little too laborious.”

Following the State Department review, federal agencies were now weighing in on the issue, their input would be evaluated by Secretary of State John Kerry – and “we’ll make a decision at that point.”

Obama said he and Harper after lunch Wednesday had “discussed a shared interest in working together around dealing with greenhouse gas emissions. And this is something that we have to deal with.”

“I said previously that how Keystone impacted greenhouse gas emissions would affect our decision. But frankly, it has to affect all of our decisions at this stage because the science is irrefutable,” he continued. “We’re already seeing severe weather patterns increase.

“That has consequences for our businesses, for our jobs, for our families, for safety and security. It has the potential of displacing people in ways that we cannot currently fully anticipate and will be extraordinarily costly. So I welcome the work that we can do together with Canada.”

Obama said the economic growth fueled by fossil fuel reserves had to be balanced against environmental concerns.

“One of the wonderful things about North America is we have this amazing bounty of traditional fossil fuels, and we also have extraordinary businesses that are able to extract them in very efficient ways – and that’s something we should welcome because it helps to promote economic growth,” he said. “But we only have one planet.”