President Rejects Keystone Pipeline Plan, Arkansas Delegation Criticize Decision

Nov 6, 2015

Pipe manufactured in advance of a Keystone XL decision sits idle outside of an east Little Rock plant (2014).
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

President Barack Obama on Friday (Nov. 6) rejected the Keystone XL pipeline proposal after a lengthy State Department review of the controversial project. The move ignited a barrage of criticism from Arkansas’ Congressional delegation and the oil and gas industry.

“Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security,” Obama said in a press conference with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry at this side.

In his eight minute speech, Obama said the State Department rejected the request from TransCanada to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline because it is not in the national interest. Obama says he agrees with the decision, ending a seven-year review of the 1,179-mile proposed project to ship crude oil from Canada across the U.S. heartland to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The pipeline is estimated to be able to ship 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

Almost immediately after the president’s speech, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., release a statement saying that Obama put his political allies ahead of the interest of Arkansas workers and families. “Worse, both he and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent years pretending to deliberate this decision when it was their intention to kill Arkansas jobs from the beginning. Rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline is a mistake – one that comes at great cost to our economy and our national security,” Cotton said. “This project would lower energy costs and create and sustain jobs in the Natural State and across the country. And it would facilitate United States energy independence, making us less reliant on the turbulent Middle East.” 

Mumbai, India-based Welspun Pipes has a manufacturing operation in Little Rock that produces pipe for the Keystone project.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., also criticized the President’s decision.

“Today’s announcement unfortunately comes as no surprise. The Obama Administration bowed to the pressure of far-left environmentalists and rejected the Keystone Pipeline on purely political grounds,” Boozman noted in a statement. “The Keystone Pipeline is the type of commonsense, job creating infrastructure project that America needs. It would create well-paying jobs for skilled laborers, at no expense to the taxpayers, and in fact had already created hundreds of jobs in Arkansas, all the while helping get oil on the market from one of our closest allies.”

Boozman in January co-sponsored legislation pushing for approval of the pipeline project. The Senate voted 62-36 for the bill, but after an Obama veto of the bill, a 62-37 vote failed to override the veto.

TransCanada said the $8 billion pipeline project would create 9,000 construction jobs, and a State Department report said the project would support 42,000 direct and indirect jobs. The project received support from the AFL-CIO, typically an ally of the White House.

Talk Business and Politics will update this story later today.