Environmentalists celebrated a major victory over Big Oil on Friday night at the White House after President Obama officially announced he would not approve the Northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. The 1,700-mile TransCanada project triggered a seven-year battle joined by scores of environmental groups who worked to defeat it.
Obama’s announcement on November 6 came four years to the day after 350.org, Sierra Club and many other organizations held a major protest against the pipeline at the White House.
The victory marks the first time people power of a grassroots movement leveraged political power to defeat a major fossil fuel project. It is likely to embolden green groups to step up efforts to convert energy policies to renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
Had the Keystone XL pipeline been built, it would have resulted in a daily capacity of 860,000 gallons of Alberta tar sands bitumen being transported to Gulf Coast refineries.
On day two of a series of protests called “FERCus,” activists played a cat-and-mouse game with police, starting out early in the morning at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, proceeding to the U.S. Department of the Interior and then returning to FERC by midday.
They began with an early morning sit-in at FERC as employees arrived at work. Later, they ducked into the Metro, confounding police who were closely following their movements.
Rails glow red hot and fire still smolders Tuesday at the site of a derailed oil train in Fayette County on Tuesday. A home was incinerated in the oil-fueled fire after the derailment, leaving only its foundation. A man escaped from the home and was treated for possible respiratory problems./Photo by Charleston Daily Mail
A CSX train transporting volatile crude from North Dakota’s Bakken shale derailed in Fayette County, West Virginia on February 16. Explosions rocked nearby houses and oil spilled into the Kanawha River.
Note: The CSX train which derailed in a residential area near Montgomery, WV originated in North Dakota and was headed to a storage depot in Yorktown, Virginia. It was carrying highly volatile crude oil from the Bakken shale. Downstream water treatment plants have been closed because of the oil being spilled into the river.
The Obama administration announced plans Tuesday to open up parts of the Arctic and waters off the mid- and south Atlantic coasts to drilling. The contentious new plan, unveiled by the Interior Department, proposes 14 potential leases between 2017 and 2022 in parts of the Arctic, Gulf of Mexico and off the coasts of Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The leases open up drilling on nearly 80 percent of undiscovered, potentially recoverable resources off the nation’s outer continental shelf.
Drilling remains off-limits off the Pacific coast, where political opposition to offshore oil and gas exploration has long been fierce. Some areas of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off the Alaskan coast—which the administration deemed “simply too special to develop”—have also been banned from leasing.
Here’s a map of the areas that were previously open to drilling and the new areas proposed for leasing. Click to enlarge.
Think Progress reports that President Obama has proposed oil and gas drilling along the east coast:
On Tuesday, the Obama administration released a proposal to sell offshore oil and gas leases in new areas of federally owned waters, including regions along the Atlantic Coast from Virginia to Georgia. The announcement is part of the Department of Interior’s latest five-year plan, which includes federal leases from 2017 to 2022.
The proposal is a draft that could be significantly altered or narrowed after upcoming months of public hearings and input, however it does not require congressional approval. The entire draft includes 14 potential lease sales in eight different areas, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico, but also three off the coast of Alaska and the portion along Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia.
The proposed opening of federal waters for drilling comes just days after the Obama administration announced plans to protect more than 12 million acres in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), which would prohibit oil and gas drilling. If the White House’s proposal does get upheld by Congress, ANWR’s designation as a wilderness area would be the largest such designation since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964.Continue reading Obama Opens Up New Areas of Atlantic Coast to Offshore Drilling→