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Columns

February 19, 2013

Cuomo, Obama aren't necessarily environmentalists

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Barack Obama both are stalling on making major environmental decisions on energy development proposals. Meanwhile, the opposition is building as the climate-change issue gains momentum with each new statistic and extreme weather event.

On Sunday, more than 30,000 protesters showed up in Washington to call on Obama to follow through on the comments he made on climate change in his inaugural address. The specific focus of many demonstrators was the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the major northern section of which awaits government approval.

In his address Jan. 21, the president said the nation “will respond to the threat of climate change knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

The Keystone pipeline, which would carry oil from the Alberta tar sands in Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast, is a major issue for climate change because oil companies must use extraction and processing methods that use a lot of energy — thus sinking a greenhouse-gas footprint much larger than that made with convention crude oil.

The government has already given a green light to the southern part of the pipeline, from Oklahoma to the Gulf. The president has been delaying a decision on the Canada-to-Oklahoma portion, perhaps because of the November election. But a decision is expected in the coming months.

Another cause of concern is the president’s continuing references to expansion of natural gas drilling, though he insists it would be done safely. Many fear that Obama may push for the approval of hydraulic fracturing to boost natural-gas production and cut down on oil consumption.

While gas production and use are not as polluting as oil, they still are not the right direction in which to go as the symptoms of climate change are worsening by the day.

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