OMAHA, Neb. – The fight over a proposed pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries has picked up again with groups on both sides putting pressure on President Barack Obama to either approve or reject the pipeline.
The attention given to TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline project has increased now that the election is over because it’s clear who will decide the project’s fate and because Nebraska is close to deciding whether to approve a revised route through the state.
Pipeline supporters held a conference call with reporters Thursday to stress what they say are the project’s economic and security benefits. Opponents worried about possible environmental damage plan a series of protests that start at the White House this weekend.
The American Petroleum Institute, which is the oil and gas industry’s main lobbying group, held Thursday’s conference call to stress the projected economic benefits of Keystone XL.
“The president says again and again that the priority is the economy and jobs. We think there is a great opportunity here,” said Marty Durbin, API executive vice president.
Pipeline backers say the project will create thousands of jobs both in the construction of the pipeline and at refineries. Opponents say the pipeline won’t create nearly as many jobs as TransCanada has projected.
Meanwhile, environmental groups have planned a protest outside the White House on Sunday.
They want Obama to reject the pipeline because a leak could contaminate underground and surface water supplies and they worry about increases in air pollution around refineries and harm to wildlife.
Pipeline opponents and backers have been making similar arguments since TransCanada proposed the project in 2008.
The Keystone XL pipeline is designed to carry oil from Canada across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.