Home Energy and Environment Obama’s Pipeline Legacy: the Path Towards a Hindered Presidency

Obama’s Pipeline Legacy: the Path Towards a Hindered Presidency


Every president wants to leave a favorable legacy behind, one that scores of future generations of Americans will look at with nostalgia and admiration. But if President Obama wishes this for himself, signing off on the Keystone XL pipeline is the worst way of showing it. As proposed, the Keystone XL pipeline would extend all the way from Alberta, Canada to Texas. That’s nearly 2,000 miles of pipeline!

But the large distance itself is not the core issue in the matter. What’s primarily at issue is the possibility for a leak, a break, or another catastrophe involving any portion of the pipeline. Situated over some of America’s most beloved and valued ecosystems and sources of drinking water, any such catastrophe could make BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico look like the best of all possible worlds.

It’s understandable that President Obama wants to appease particular elements within the business community, the electorate, and numerous other constituent groups by giving the “all clear” to construct the Keystone XL pipeline. But when American’s voted for change, many such as myself voted for a change in the way we deal with environmental and economic issues. When as many unknown variables enter the environmental equation as in the case of the Keystone XL pipeline, then a hold should be placed on whatever might cause human and environmental harm until the unknown variables are found and properly addressed.


If President Obama goes through with this pipeline, it will not be a question of if, but a question of when something catastrophic will occur regarding the XL pipeline. Maybe it will be a hundred years from now, or maybe ten, maybe in our lifetimes or maybe in the lifetimes of our children. But it will happen if the history of these ambitious utilities projects is any indicator for the future. Does President Obama really want that on his presidential record for posterity to judge him with?

  • Here’s a statement by Caroline Kory of Environment Virginia:

    I am pleased that the president’s speech highlights an important fact: that a healthy economy goes hand in hand with a healthy environment. The president recognized tonight that rolling back key protections for our environment and public health will do nothing to help our economy, and rather will cost Virginia’s families dearly.

    “In addition, the jobs agenda the president unveiled provides many opportunities for investing in clean energy and green transportation. Environment Virginia urges the administration and Congress to focus on these technologies to not only clean our air and reduce our oil dependence, but also put our economy on a stable, long-term path to innovation and job creation. Under the leadership of President Obama, these investments – in fuel-efficient automobiles, energy efficiency, mass transit and wind and solar power – have already created hundreds of thousands of jobs, cleaned up our air and reduced the threat of climate change.

    “For example, with the support of established clean vehicles standards through 2016 and through effective investments, 300 companies across the country are putting Americans to work manufacturing clean and efficient vehicle technologies and are currently employing 150,000 people. President Obama has outlined a new clean vehicle standards proposal for model years 2017 to 2025 that could significantly slash our oil dependence and create about 600,000 new jobs.

    “We can still do more. The president’s speech tonight highlighted infrastructure, job creation, rebuilding our schools and reinvesting in our communities. All of these efforts are worthy in their own right, and each has incredible potential to help clean up our air, our water, and save energy. While these efforts were not a major tenet of his speech today, I applaud the president for recommitting himself to a robust clean energy agenda while moving forward with a better, cleaner transportation infrastructure.

    “Additionally, Environment Virginia stands with the president against assaults on our fundamental environmental and public health protections, and we call on Congress to join us. We look forward to working with President Obama and his administration as they continue to support clean energy and transportation.