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Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline Plans

On Wednesday, the Obama administration has made a decision to reject TransCanada Corp's plans to build the Keystone XL pipeline, according to MSNBC. In his address today, President Barack Obama noted that the rejection of TransCanada's application was to be blamed in large part on Republicans in Congress in their attempt to circumvent the administration's decision. Initially Obama had tried to delay the decision until 2013.

Despite this setback for Keystone XL, the company can still apply again for a permit, but only under new circumstances like identifying a new route. With this major decision over such a large environmental and energy debate in the U.S., here are some facts about the pipeline and the continuing debate:

* The National Journal reported that the Keystone XL pipeline is a $7 billion project that would extend 1,700 miles and deliver 700,000 barrels of crude oil from Alberta, Canada to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast.

* One of the major areas of concern over the pipeline took place in Nebraska, where the proposed pipeline was planned to cut right through the state, because of the proximity to the state's Ogallala aquifer.

* Keystone XL has garnered support from Republicans and industry representatives through its potential to create both permanent and temporary jobs from construction and operation in the U.S., reported the Washington Post.

* TransCanada's initial estimate of the 20,000 jobs that would be created by the project has also come under debate in light of the State Department's own estimate of 6,500 jobs.

* An article from the Guardian noted that numerous environmental groups and landowners in Nebraska had fought hard against the initial proposed route because it posed a threat to the state's ecologically fragile Sand Hills region.

* Environmental organizations also argued that the pipeline would undermine the country's goal of moving towards clean energy production and increase the dependence on fossil fuels.

* Following the Obama administration's rejection of the pipeline plans, the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association Charles T. Drevna issued a statement noting that the rejection threatens the nation's energy security and job growth, added the Sacramento Bee.

* Drevna also added that the administration's decision was just to appeal protest groups and ignores over three years of research that shows the pipeline is safe.

* According to the Vancouver Sun, Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, offered praised for the President's decision, saying that it addresses "wildly exaggerated jobs claims."

* Additionally, President Obama was given until Feb. 21 to make an official ruling on Keystone XL, a deadline imposed by Congress.

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.