How does Keystone pipeline rejection affect Houston?

January 19, 2012 3:24:54 AM PST
A controversial decision Wednesday from the Obama administration, blocking a pipeline project that has significant implications for Houston.

We've been telling you about the Keystone XL project for months now -- a 1,700 mile oil pipeline that would connect Canada to Houston. On Wednesday, President Obama said he's denying the Canadian company's permit because of an unrealistic deadline set by Republicans in Congress. The president says there's simply not enough time for an environmental review.

At a time when Americans are hurting for jobs, the decision is drawing quick responses.

The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline by the Obama administration garnered swift reaction in Houston. At City Hall, Mayor Annise Parker said she needed more information, but in general she supports the project.

"Oil and energy are the lifeblood of this region, and we need to support oil and jobs in this region," said Mayor Parker.

The proposed pipeline would have connected Canada's oil sands to refineries along the Gulf Coast. Houston energy industry experts overwhelmingly panned the decision, saying it will hurt Houston's economy.

"Unfortunately in an economy near nine percent, it's a bad move for Americans looking for good paying jobs," said Dr. Michael Warren, Director Of Research at Hart Energy.

Supporters say the project would have provided thousands of construction jobs and provided a steady supply of crude for our area's refineries. But environmental groups disagree.

"The whole jobs issue is a complete red herring," said Matthew Tejada of Air Alliance Houston.

Tejada says the cost to the environment and people who live around the refineries would far outweigh any benefits.

"This was a way for billion dollar companies to get crude at a slightly cheaper rate The jobs, we're talking about a few thousand construction jobs spread from here to the Canadian border," Tejada said.

Republican presidential candidates didn't waste any time criticizing President Obama on his decision over the Keystone XL project. Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney quickly spoke out against the president. In a statement, Romney said the president wasn't serious about unemployment, and was more concerned about pleasing his political base -- environmentalists.