President Obama said Tuesday that he will decide whether to approve or deny a permit for a controversial 1,700-mile Canadian oil pipeline, rather than delegating the decision to the State Department.
The proposal by the firm TransCanada to ship crude extracted from a region in Alberta called the “oil sands” to Gulf Coast refineries has become a charged political issue for the White House. Labor unions and business groups argue that it would create thousands of jobs in the midst of an economic downturn. Environmentalists — who plan to ring the White House in a protest on Sunday — say the extraction of the oil will accelerate global warming and the pipeline itself could spill, polluting waterways and causing severe environmental harm.
In an interview with the Omaha television station KETV, the president said he would weigh the Keystone XL pipeline’s potential economic benefits against its possible environmental consequences. The Nebraska legislature convened Tuesday in a special session, called by Gov. Dave Heineman (R), to consider whether it should adopt any measures that would block the pipeline.