Keystone XL Pushes Ahead and Inspires Unlikely Alliance

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With gas prices across the country averaging $3.78 a gallon after rising 13 cents last week, Republicans railed against the Obama administration’s energy policy. Chief among their complaints was President Obama’s denial of a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline last month.

TransCanada, the company that wants to build the massive pipeline from Alberta, Canada through America’s heartland to the Gulf of Mexico, announced Monday that they will begin construction on the southern section without congressional or official White House approval. The Los Angeles Times reports:

“While an international permit is needed for the northern segment because it crosses the U.S.-Canada border, TransCanada needs mainly state and local authorization to build the southern segment. With strong support in states along that section of the corridor, TransCanada officials said, they expect to have the southern segment operating by late 2013 at a cost of $2.3 billion.”

The White House supported the move. Press secretary Jay Carney said, “Moving oil from the Midwest to the world-class, state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast will modernize our infrastructure, create jobs, and encourage American energy production.”

Protestors against the Keystone XL pipeline dressed as referees throw red penalty flags during a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington. Jaunary 2012. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Protestors against the Keystone XL pipeline dressed as referees throw red penalty flags during a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Environmentalists, including Bill McKibben, who have organized several protest against the pipeline, expressed dismay: “Even though this doesn’t bring new oil in from the tar sands,” Mr. McKibben said, “we stand with our allies across the region who are fighting to keep giant multinational corporations from condemning their lands. This fight is uniting people, from environmentalists to Tea Partiers, in all kinds of ways.”

Wait a minute, environmentalists and Tea Partiers? It’s true. Talking Points Memo reports:

“on the portion of the pipeline that would link Nebraska to Texas, TransCanada has threatened to use disputed eminent domain powers to condemn privately held land, over the owners’ objections. And that’s creating unusual allies — Occupiers, Tea Partiers, environmentalists, individualists — united to stop TransCanada from threatening water supplies, ancient artifacts, and people’s basic property rights.”

Farmer Julia Trigg Crawford fought back, filing a restraining order against TransCanada earlier this month. But on Friday, a judge rescinded that order.

Despite the setback, environmentalists and Tea Partiers vowed to continue the fight against the pipeline.

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