WASHINGTON, June 20 (Reuters) - Foes of the proposed
Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to
Texas, said on Thursday that an expected White House package of
proposals to combat climate change was not an adequate trade-off
for approval of the controversial project.
Tom Steyer, a billionaire former hedge fund investor and
environmental activist, said news that President Barack Obama
would unveil a climate change strategy in the coming weeks,
including curbs on power plant emissions, would be meaningless
if the pipeline goes ahead.
"The idea of a trade here is very confusing and not
logical," Steyer told reporters at the roll-out of a new social
media campaign to engage Obama's grassroots supporters to
ratchet up pressure to reject the pipeline.
Steyer's campaign is ramping up weeks after supporters of
the pipeline launched their own media blitz urging the White
House to approve the TransCanada Corp project.
Heather Zichal, Obama's energy and climate policy adviser,
said on Wednesday that the president would use the federal Clean
Air Act to clean up the country's power plants, which account
for nearly 40 percent of domestic emissions.
The pipeline would link Alberta's oil sands production with
refineries and ports along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The pipeline
would transport about 830,000 barrels per day and cost some $5.3
billion to construct.
Obama is unlikely to make a final decision on the project
before late this year or early 2014, and will rely on the
recommendation of the State Department.
A State Department official said Thursday the agency is
undergoing a rigorous process to evaluate the pipeline proposal.
"Time is required to do the job right, regardless of
political pressure from either side," the official said, adding
that the State Department is still trying to incorporate the
input of over 1.2 million public comments on the project.
Environmental and civil rights activist Van Jones, who
served as Obama's special adviser for green jobs in 2009, said
crafting a tradeoff between a new climate policy and approval of
Keystone would be a political "miscalculation" that would
alienate Obama's supporters.
"It risks destroying the base," Jones said.