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Heartland Institute Experts React to Obama Veto of Keystone XL Pipeline

February 24, 2015

As expected, President Barack Obama today vetoed a bill urging the administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from the Alberta tar sands in Canada to refineries in the United States.


As expected, President Barack Obama today vetoed a bill urging the administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from the Alberta tar sands in Canada to refineries in the United States.

The following statements from energy and environment experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“In one fell swoop President Obama killed thousands of American jobs, raised domestic energy prices, and ensured greater U.S. dependence on oil from nations that are openly hostile to freedom, democracy, and the United States of America. In his entire life, Hugo Chavez never had a single day when he inflicted so much harm on America’s economy and national security.”

James M. Taylor

Senior Fellow for Environmental Policy
The Heartland Institute

“The Keystone XL Pipeline is a basic infrastructure project, like building an interstate or municipal water system, and should never have become a controversial issue. The oil sands from Canada are going to be produced and refined regardless of whether this pipeline is adopted or not, if not through a pipeline to Western Canada en route to China, then by rail to refineries in the United States.

“Pipelines are safer and more efficient than trains, and the president’s decision to veto Keystone XL may ultimately result in more damage to the environment than approving the pipeline. Environmentalists: 1, Environment: 0.”

Isaac Orr

Research Fellow, Energy and Environment Policy
The Heartland Institute

“By accepting, even promoting, the wholly false notion that we can control our planet’s climate merely by restricting industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the Canadian and Alberta governments support the main driver of the anti-Keystone movement – fears that the project will facilitate oil sands expansion, which in turn will increase GHG emissions.

“While Canadian leaders are right to point out that, seen in a world context, any conceivable oil sands expansion will have negligible impact on overall GHG emissions and so climate, they ignore the main concern of the Environmental Protection Agency, and indeed much of the media. While admitting that U.S. GHG regulations will have an insignificant impact on climate, EPA Chief Gina McCarthy explained that the administration’s goal is to set an example to the world of reducing GHG emissions so that others will follow.

“The only way to defeat this argument is to demonstrate that industrial GHG emissions almost certainly have negligible impact on world climate. And the best way to show that is to convene open, unbiased hearings into, first, the climatic impact of oil sands expansion and, second, the state of climate science as a whole. When the public becomes more aware of the vast uncertainties in this immature science, support for the climate movement will wither further and Obama’s last excuse to block the pipeline will vanish.”

Tom Harris

Executive Director
International Climate Science Coalition
Ottawa, Canada
Policy Advisor, Energy and Environment
The Heartland Institute

“Obama’s veto, while not surprising, is still disappointing and disgraceful. The president says we should follow the science in matters of energy and environmental policy, yet he does just the opposite on Keystone.

“Most of the pipeline has already been built and is functioning and the state department has twice issued reports determining that Keystone XL would be environmentally benign, not even contributing to climate change. Still, for purely political reasons, the president has vetoed an infrastructure project that would have created thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in revenue and taxes, and improved the nation’s energy security.”

H. Sterling Burnett
Research Fellow, Environment & Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News

“Finally, President Obama has come clean with his veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act. After six years of dithering in an attempt to appease both the environmentalists who don’t want it, and the unions who do, we now know on which side he stands.

“Thanks to today’s veto of the bipartisan bill that garners strong public support, including that of the Latino Coalition, but not those who self-identify as ‘strongly liberal,’ it is finally clear that Obama cares more about his environmental base than he does for the jobs and economic stimulus the pipeline represents. For the Keystone opponents, it never was about the pipeline, or its safety; it’s about the use of fossil fuels. Stopping the pipeline was just a way to stop the flow of oil.

“The unions have been working behind the scenes to identify vulnerable Democrat legislators who should be voting with them. Now the screws will tighten. I expect the needed votes for an override will come through and the pipeline – just one of dozens already crossing the U.S./Canadian border – can commence construction, providing Americans with thousands of good-paying jobs and increased energy security.”

Marita Noon
Executive Director
Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy

“The veto of the Keystone XL pipeline affords no economic or environmental benefit and it entails continuation of a significant risk to public safety, plus increased fossil fuel emissions in transport of the oil by rail. The only real purpose is to pander to popularity with an ill-informed self-righteous minority of non-producers who unfortunately comprise an important element of the electorate and with whom the president appears to himself identify.

“If anyone had any doubt left that President Obama is the enemy of the development of America’s energy infrastructure, that doubt should be erased by his veto of a resolution to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Walter Starck
Policy Advisor, Environment
The Heartland Institute

“It is foolish that President Obama vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline because the Canadian oil will be processed somewhere else if it is not processed by United States oil refineries. The oil may be shipped to China that is desperate to lock in oil supplies throughout the planet.

“United States refineries are under control by the most-stringent enforcing environmental agency in the world – the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Any similar agency outside the United States will have less rigorous standards for protecting the public from air and water pollution. Countries such as China will pollute the air and water refining Canadian oil. The president’s veto demonstrates he has no confidence in the performance of his Environmental Protection Agency.

“This veto is also destroying jobs in the United States for steel workers making the pipeline, construction workers building the pipeline, and refinery workers processing the oil. These high-paying job losses have to be in the tens of thousands. In addition, this delays establishment of energy independence for North America and shows Russian President Vladimir Putin we are not serious about punishing him for atrocities in Ukraine by shutting down his oil sales.”

James H. Rust
Professor of nuclear engineering (ret.), Georgia Tech
Policy Advisor
The Heartland Institute

“There are approximately 55,000 miles of pipelines in the U.S. with another 30,000 to 40,000 smaller gathering pipelines that feed it to the major ones. They not only do not pose an environmental ‘threat,’ they represent the safest way to transmit energy resources. The Keystone XL pipeline represented, in addition, thousands of jobs in a nation where 92 million are unemployed or underemployed. It would have generated revenue to benefit the states through which it passes and the nation as a whole. It is also an insult to America’s ally and neighbor, Canada, the source of the oil that would be transmitted to our Gulf states for refining.”

Alan Caruba
Founder, The National Anxiety Center
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a 31-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.

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Isaac Orr is a policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment on mining and energy issues and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute. @thefrackingguy
Tom Harris is executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition @TomHarrisICSC
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
Marita Noon is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy(CARE). @@energyrabbit
Walter Starck is one of the pioneers in the scientific investigation of coral reefs. He grew up in the Florida Keys and received a PhD in marine science from the University of Miami in 1964.
Professor of Nuclear Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (ret.), Climate Change and Energy
Alan Caruba — who passed away on June 16, 2015 — was a writer by profession and host of several Web sites and blogs, including Warning Signs, The National Anxiety Center, Caruba Editorial Services, and Bookviews by Alan Caruba.

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