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January 21, 2013

Obama to be Tested on Climate Change Stance with Keystone XL Pipeline Decision



President Barack Obama reminded the world of his stance on climate change during his second inauguration speech today, pledging to respond to it and referring to it as a threat. He went on to say that failing to do so would be a betrayal of the nation's children and future generations.

"Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms," he added.

However, while environmental groups applauded Obama for mentioning a topic that had been all but ignored during the recent presidential campaign, others pointed out that the President's words will soon be tested as he decides whether or not to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. The pipeline would run from western Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Obama blocked the pipeline last year due to uncertainty over its route, which would run through environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska. There is also controversy regarding the type of oil to be transported via the pipeline, which environmental groups referred to as "dirty oil" from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada. These groups also stated that the pipeline would also produce heat-trapping gasses that would contribute to global warming.

"Starting with rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, the president must make fighting global warming a central priority," said Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America, in a statement.

Republicans and many business groups, meanwhile, have stated that the pipeline would help North America achieve energy independence while creating thousands of jobs.

Obama tried to get a climate change bill through Congress in his first term and many have pointed out that any attempt at a second climate bill would see major resistance in Congress again — especially in the Republican-controlled house.

Dave Coles, the national president of Canada's largest energy union, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), came out against the Keystone XL pipeline last week at an event in New York City called "Confronting the Climate Crisis: Can Labor Help Shape an Effective Strategy." Coles called on President Obama to reject the project.

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Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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