Washington, D.C./New York – Church World Service this afternoon applauded President Barack Obama’s decision today denying a permit to move ahead with the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline, the hotly debated 1,700 mile-long project that would have run from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
Just over a month ago, CWS reminded President Obama that, “America does not follow, it leads.” The reference was to the role of the United States as a leader in efforts to protect the global environment from the ravages of man-made climate change.
That the President heard that message from CWS Executive Director and CEO the Rev. John L. McCullough and other environmentally concerned sectors was evident today when just hours ago President Obama announced his decision to deny a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
The controversial project would have been a backward step in the administration’s commitment to investing in clean and renewable energy sources, said McCullough.
“The president has left the door open for the application for a permit to be resubmitted – with the requirement that a new route bypass environmentally sensitive areas,” noted McCullough.
“This was a courageous decision by the President, in the face of immense pressure from corporate and other interests to build the pipeline. A project of this size and scope would have an enormous impact on the quality of the environment and, by extension, the quality of life for generations of people to come.
“In deciding against moving ahead without further study, President Obama has exhibited a profound respect for God’s creation and our sacred responsibility to protect the earth we inhabit,” said Rev. McCullough.
“As a humanitarian organization, CWS and our partners work directly with people who already have been struggling for years to overcome the devastating effects of climate change on their lives, especially in regard to food security. We cannot make their burden any heavier by exhibiting a lack of care for this planet.
“CWS is pleased to see that the President clearly understands this, and therefore has decided in favor of the people and the environment.
“We urge congressional leaders to operate in the best interests of the people by supporting this decision and by promoting alternative energy projects that would protect human rights and health while creating jobs.”
Obama’s decision this afternoon quickly came under attack by opponents who claim that denying the pipeline would cost tens of thousands of jobs. The U.S. State Department, however, has estimated that Keystone XL would produce just 20 permanent, operational jobs in the U.S. and 2,500 to 4,650 temporary jobs overall.