Keystone Pipeline Plays Minor Role in State of the Union

by | Jan 21, 2015

President Obama only briefly mentioned the Keystone XL pipeline in last night’s State of the Union address.

Earlier Tuesday, however, Obama reiterated he would veto the Keystone pipeline if it passes Congress, the Hill reports. And in his speech he did vow to veto any congressional efforts to halt executive actions designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change,” Obama said, adding that the nation should act like climate change threatens national security.

Obama also highlighted the US and China’s ambitious climate change goals announced in November, when Obama pledged to cut US greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Chinese president Xi Jinping announced targets to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 or sooner and to increase China’s non-fossil fuel share of energy to around 20 percent by 2030.

Thomas Lorenzen, who spent more than a decade at the US Justice Department as its assistant chief in the Environment and Natural Resources Division and now is a partner at the international law firm of Dorsey & Whitney, said the president’s message was clear.

“EPA will continue to pursue aggressive regulation designed to tackle climate change, from its pending power plant regulations to the recently-announced efforts to address methane emitted by oil and gas production,” Lorenzen said. “Engagement with the agency on these issues therefore will continue to be critical, to ensure that any regulations make economic as well as environmental sense.”

The American Petroleum Institute’s president and CEO Jack Gerard said Obama’s remarks about oil and natural gas in his State of the Union address “fell short of acknowledging the true impact of our energy renaissance on the US economy.”

“Oil and natural gas companies are leading the way to cut emissions without new and costly regulations that could actually complicate existing regulations,” Gerard said. “US carbon emissions are close to 20-year lows thanks largely to natural gas, and methane emissions from hydraulic fracturing have fallen by 73 percent since 2011, according to the government’s own data,” Gerard said.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story’s headline incorrectly said “Keystone Pipeline Absent from State of the Union.”

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