NRDC threatens legal action if Obama approves Keystone pipeline


A major environmental group said Friday that it would consider a legal challenge if President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline.

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council told reporters that she is confident that Obama will reject the pipeline under a GOP-backed measure requiring a decision on the project by Feb. 21.

But if Obama decides to greenlight the project, she said NRDC “would be looking at various legal challenges to the pipeline, which is not in the national interest.”

The administration would open itself up to legal challenges if it approves the pipeline because the Republican measure — which was included in a broad payroll tax cut package — does not give officials enough time to complete a national interest determination, she said.

“Frankly, it’s common sense. You can’t make a decision on the pipeline when you don’t know the path of the pipeline,” said Casey-Lefkowitz, who is director of NRDC’s international program.

Obama sought to delay a decision on the pipeline until after the 2012 election so the administration can review alternative pipeline routes around an environmentally sensitive region in Nebraska. The Republican Keystone measure allows Obama to approve the project before the alternative pipeline route is finalized.

White House and administration officials have said that they will have little choice but to reject the pipeline under the expedited timeline required under the GOP-backed provision.

Supporters and opponents of the pipeline have launched an aggressive lobbying campaign in recent weeks.

Republicans and industry groups say the pipeline would create jobs, boost the economy and improve national security, while environmentalists say those claims are greatly exaggerated. Green groups raise concerns about greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands production, as well as the potential for oil spills.

The Keystone XL pipeline would carry Canadian oil sands crude from Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

NRDC also criticized draft legislation authored by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) that would give the power to make a final decision on the pipeline to Congress, rather than the president.

“I think the White House would be likely to raise constitutional questions on that kind of legislation and the public would be very skeptical of Congress turning itself into a permitting body,” NRDC Director of Government Affairs David Goldston said.

Source: The Hill


~ by FSVSF Admin on 23 January, 2012.

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