Barack Obama announces US-China investment in oil pipeline deal

Written by By Haley Moos, CNN Biden launched the pipeline in September 2015 and formally signed it the following October after working with both governments to resolve thorny details. Grace noted that the pipeline…

Barack Obama announces US-China investment in oil pipeline deal

Written by By Haley Moos, CNN

Biden launched the pipeline in September 2015 and formally signed it the following October after working with both governments to resolve thorny details.

Grace noted that the pipeline is highly controversial in North Dakota.

“There’s really two sides to the Bakken oil pipeline. On one side is the people that were left out of the original process to get permission, to get the original permit from the state of North Dakota,” Grace said. “They would like to see their voices heard.”

Another opponent is North Dakota congresswoman Heather Wilson. She describes the pipeline as a “game changer” for the Great Plains. She also voiced concern over the potential environmental effects of the pipeline.

As part of his message, Joe Biden said the deal was a chance for China to build the trust of the US.

“Most importantly, it shows the immense potential for lasting economic, political and strategic cooperation between our two countries,” Biden said at a press conference earlier this month.

Risk of escalation

On the other side of the decision, North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum applauded the pipeline decision.

“It’s my hope that our growing and improving trade relationship with China will not only continue to bring more North Dakota jobs to our state, but will allow our residents to become advocates for homegrown enterprises,” Burgum said in a statement earlier this month.

The decision will come as a disappointment to an environmental group that helped get the pipeline rejected in the first place. Environmental and labor advocates fear that construction on the pipeline, which would transport oil from western North Dakota to Illinois and North Dakota, could cause environmental damage.

A section of the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline in Iowa. Credit: Mark Peterson/Redux Pictures for CNN

On Thursday, the pipeline’s developers vowed to continue to pursue the project.

“Building America’s energy future, and the pipelines to help get that energy to market, creates thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for North Dakota and other states,” developer Energy Transfer Partners said in a statement.

After being shut down in December 2016, construction on the pipeline began in September 2017.

Biden said that once President Trump agreed to re-examine the environmental approval process, it was a signal that American officials were “willing to do what’s right.”

The TransCanada Keystone pipeline

In 2015, President Barack Obama decided not to approve TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline after lobbying by some influential Democrats. But the project, which would have operated between Canada and Nebraska, has not stopped there.

A June report from environmental group the Center for Biological Diversity said a handful of states could even overcome their opposition to Keystone, saying they believe environmental concerns are limited.

TransCanada also applied for approval of another pipeline project — to run oil from Montana and North Dakota to an inland port in Nebraska. The move would affect several states, because natural gas is also transported through the pipeline.

If all of those construction projects move forward, the Center for Biological Diversity fears that the US could be using 50% of the world’s total reserves of unconventional oil by 2030.

Some environmental groups see Keystone and its sister pipeline as big threats to the world’s climate. Environmental and labor advocates argue that they could be ecological disasters.

Blair Hanley, climate campaigner for environmental group 350.org, says North Dakota lawmakers, environmental groups and businesses should make North Dakota look for more energy alternatives.

She thinks some of those alternatives are coming from nearby countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, but thinks the pipeline is a step in the wrong direction.

“Instead of taking climate change very seriously, it could lock us into damaging fossil fuel use for many decades to come,” Hanley said.

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment but has not yet received a response.

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