Challenges Await Obama as Keystone Decision Looms

Map by NPR

A map of the existing and proposed Keystone XL pipelines

The president has around thirty days left to make a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude from the oil sands of Canada to refineries in Texas. It’s fast become a dividing line between industry and environmentalists, and the decision is coming at the beginning of an election year.

How is Obama weighing the decision? What are the pros and cons running through his mind? And what repercussions await if he says no to the pipeline?

NPR has taken an in-depth look at these questions, hearing from industry and environmentalists, both of whom feel they have much at stake in the decision:

“”The Keystone XL pipeline will be a presidential election issue and will likely play out much broader,” observed Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, at a recent industry event in Washington, D.C.

Gerard predicts the pipeline issue will even show up in local political races. As if to ensure that, his group started running a TV ad this week in Midwestern states. It encourages people to call or write Obama, and tell him to approve the pipeline.

Ads from opponents, concerned about pollution associated with tar sands oil, are more difficult to find. They’re generally low-budget affairs, like one on YouTube featuring hand puppets. It includes a portrayal of old men around a boardroom table plotting to get the pipeline approved by hiring “the best PR company money can buy.”"

Read more at NPR and read our explainer of the Keystone XL pipeline.

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