President Barack Obama's inauguration pledge to respond to the threat of climate change is about to get tested in the eyes of environmentalists as he faces the decision of whether to approve a controversial oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman announced Tuesday his approval of a revised route for the Keystone XL Pipeline that he says avoids environmentally sensitive areas in his state that had been a key obstacle to Obama approving the project last year, Fox News reports.
This decision brings back to life a controversial issue for Obama. Supporters of the project say the $7 billion pipeline would help achieve energy independence for North America and create thousands of jobs. Heineman, a Republican, said Tuesday that construction in Nebraska would yield $418 million in economic benefits. Opponents claim the pipeline project would transport "dirty oil" from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, and produce emissions that contribute to global warming. Environmentalists have also raised concerns about the impact from a potential spill, the Associated Press reports.
"Starting with rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, the president must make fighting global warming a central priority," Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America, told the AP.