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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • N.D. delegation slams Obama’s climate speech, urges Keystone XL approval

  • A climate speech by President Barack Obama on Tuesday drew the ire of a trio of North Dakota politicians.
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  • A climate speech by President Barack Obama on Tuesday drew the ire of a trio of North Dakota politicians.
    Taking shots at critics of climate change science — a group Obama referred to as the “Flat Earth Society” — and unveiling his administration’s environmental strategy moving forward, the president called for an elimination of tax breaks for “big oil” and said an ultimate decision on the pending approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would be based on what the “net effect on our climate” would be.
    Following the Georgetown University speech, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., sent out a joint news release encouraging the president to approve TransCanada’s Keystone XL project, which all three have adamantly pushed for.
    “As the time nears for a decision, the president has yet again tried to move the goalposts of the Keystone XL pipeline,” Heitkamp said in a statement. “After one of the most exhaustive environmental review processes in U.S. history, there have been no findings that the Keystone XL project will have a significant environmental impact.”
    All three politicians lauded the potential creation of jobs and pointed to the safety that newer pipelines — especially the Keystone XL project — provide against environmental hazards such as spills.
    “The right approach to energy is a state’s first approach,” Hoeven said during a phone interview Tuesday. “That type of approach has been very successful in North Dakota, which is really an energy powerhouse in the nation today. With Keystone XL, there is some thought that (Obama) may ultimately approve the project and not get as much criticism from the environmental extremists after today’s speech.”
    Hoeven said he still expects the president to make a decision on the controversial Canada-to-Texas pipeline sometime in August, referencing a conversation he had with Obama earlier this year. The U.S. State Department is reviewing the Keystone XL proposal, which has been studied and debated for years.
    In March, Hoeven spearheaded an effort that got a strong majority of Senate votes in support of the pipeline project.
    “I would say there’s a reasonable chance (Obama) will approve the Keystone XL,” Hoeven said. “The last time I brought an amendment up on it in the Senate, we got 62 votes. I think that puts him in a position where, if he turns it down, we’d still be in position to approve it congressionally.”
    Hoeven criticized Obama for what he called a continued campaign of “over-regulation” and “big government command and control” of the U.S. economy, which North Dakota’s senior senator said is hurting economic growth.
    Page 2 of 2 - In the joint statement, Cramer highlighted a sophisticated satellite monitoring system that would be in place for the Keystone XL and said the president “continues to put the interests of a few environmentalists above the needs of citizens.”
    The Keystone XL would not run through North Dakota, but would transport Bakken crude oil. Environmentalists have cautioned against the approval of the full Keystone XL project, pointing to concerns about moving potentially hazardous Canadian tar sands oil, among other worries.
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