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Obama Promises Veto on Keystone XL Legislation

Environmental groups say 'good'—now kill the project for good

" and their allies paraded a giant 200 yard inflatable pipeline around the Capitol Building before the State of the Union to demand that the President Obama reject the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline January 27, 2014." (Photo: Steven Tuttle/flickr/cc)

President Barack Obama will veto any legislation that forces the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, the White House said Tuesday.

The announcement came as Republicans took control of Congress, and Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) promptly introduced legislation to green-light the tar sands pipeline.

"If this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn't sign it," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

The Republican-majority House is expected to vote on legislation to approve the pipeline this week.

"There is already a well-established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country," Earnest continued. As the Washington Post reported, "That process is held up by a lawsuit in Nebraska over whether the state legislature could allow the governor to make decisions on the pipeline rather than the state's Public Utilities Commission."

Environmental groups welcomed Obama's veto threat—but urged that the president kill the project for good.

"The decision to approve or deny Keystone XL has always belonged to the President alone, and he has now made it clear that he’ll reject attacks on that authority," stated Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "President Obama has also said he’d oppose the tar sands pipeline if it contributes to the climate crisis. He has all the evidence he needs to know that it does and reject Keystone XL."

Peter Galvin, director of programs at the Center for Biological Diversity, called the veto promise "encouraging," and stated: "Keystone would be a disaster for our climate and wildlife, so here’s hoping this is his first step toward killing this project once and for all."

"This is the moment where we need President Obama to stand strong and on the right side of history," Galvin continued. "Keystone and projects like it have driven us into the climate crisis. The first step toward getting us out of this hole is to stop digging deeper."

Echoing a statement from Executive Director May Boeve, Rainforest Action Network Climate Program Director Amanda Starbuck said that the White House promise was the result of indefatigable climate activists.

"Together this movement has marched, written letters, sat in at the White House and along the route of the pipeline, and self-organized a large-scale network ready to do whatever it takes to win a rejection on Keystone. It’s an important day for the climate and for communities when the President decides to side with the people over the fossil fuel corporations who are wrecking our climate for profit," Starbuck said.

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