(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama announced Friday that his administration has rejected the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, deciding that it “would not serve the national interests of the United States.”
“This morning, Secretary Kerry informed me that after extensive public outreach in consultation with other cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided that the Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the national interests of the United States. I agree with that decision,” the president said.
Obama said he spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was disappointed with the Obama administration’s position on the pipeline, but agreed to work together on “on a whole range of issues, including energy and climate change.”
The pipeline “has occupied what I frankly consider an overinflated role in our political discourse,” Obama said. “It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter, and all of this obscured the fact that this pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy – as was promised by some - nor express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.”
The president said the State Department rejected the pipeline, because it “would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy, so if Congress is serious about creating jobs, this was not the way to do it.”
Instead, Obama suggested that Congress pass “a bipartisan infrastructure plan” that would create “more than 30 times as many jobs per year as the pipeline would” in the short term and “in the long run would benefit our economy and our workers for decades to come.”
Obama also pointed out that gas prices have fallen “steadily” across the country.
“The national average gas price is down about 77 cents over a year ago. It’s down $1 over two years ago. It’s down $1.27 over three years ago. Today, in 41 states, drivers can find at least one gas station selling gas for less than $2 a gallon,” he said. “So while our politics have been consumed by a debate over whether or not this pipeline would create jobs and lower gas prices, we’ve gone ahead and created jobs and lowered gas prices.
“Third, shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security. What has increased America’s energy security is our strategy over the past several years to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world,” Obama said.
The president noted that he set a goal three years ago to cut oil imports in half by 2020 – a goal that he accomplished “last year – five years early,” by producing more oil inside the U.S. “and using less oil throughout our economy.”
The U.S. now produces more oil than it buys from other countries for the first time in two decades, Obama noted.
“Now the truth is the United States will continue to rely on oil and gas as we transition, as we must transition to a clean energy economy. That transition will take some time, but it’s also going more quickly than many anticipated,” he said.
“The point is, the old rules said we couldn’t promote economic growth and protect our environment at the same time. The old rules said we couldn’t transition to clean energy without squeezing businesses and consumers,” Obama said.
However, “this is America, and we’ve come up with new ways and new technologies to break down the old rules so that today homegrown American energy is booming. Energy prices are falling, and over the past decade – even as our economy has continued to grow – America has cut our total carbon pollution more than any other country on earth.”
The U.S. is leading on climate change with investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, the president said. It’s also “leading on climate change with new rules on power plants that will protect our air so that our kids can breathe.”
“America’s leading on climate change by working with other big emitters like China to encourage and announce new commitments to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. Because of U.S. leadership, “more than 150 nations representing nearly 90 percent of global emissions have put forward plans to cut pollution.”
Obama said the United States is a global leader in the fight against climate change, “and frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership, and that’s the biggest risk we face – not acting.”
“Today, we’re continuing to lead by example, because ultimately, if we’re gonna prevent large parts of this earth from becoming not only inhospitable, but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re gonna have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground, rather than burn them, and release more dangerous pollution into the sky,” said Obama.
Obama said he looks forward to meeting with world leaders in Paris to come up with “an ambitious framework to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can.”