Former Obama team member pushes White House to reject pipeline
April 7th, 2013
05:26 PM ET
10 years ago

Former Obama team member pushes White House to reject pipeline

(CNN) - Bill Burton spent the greater part of the past two years working to get President Barack Obama re-elected.

Now he's in a different job, calling on the president to reject the Keystone XL pipeline project, which Obama's administration last month said would have no significant effect on the environment.

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In an e-mail sent to Sunday news show staffs, Burton previewed the launch of a new coalition, "All Risk, No Reward," which takes a strong stance against its approval.

"The coalition will be targeting influential Democratic leaders in Washington and around the country as well as young voters with earned and paid media," Burton wrote in the memo, which was first reported by Politico. He added that the group will specifically "urge President Obama and [Secretary of State John] Kerry to reject it."

Burton left the White House as deputy press secretary in early 2011 to head the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA. In January, a few months after the election, he joined the firm Global Strategy Group as an executive vice president.

Obama already approved the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline, which brings oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, he fast-tracked its approval and paved the way for construction last year.

The northern leg is more controversial, as it would bring oil from the tar sands of Canada down a 1,700 mile route to the Gulf Coast. Critics say the type of oil from Canada produces 5% to 30% more greenhouse gases than other types of conventional crude, and transporting it runs the risk of spills.

The State Department rejected a permit from the proposed pipeline's builder, TransCanada, last year, saying the route through Nebraska was too risky for the state's Ogallala Aquifer, which provides water to farmers and ranchers to raise livestock and grow crops.

After a new route was drawn and approved by the state's Republican governor, Dave Heineman, the State Department issued its draft environmental statement last month, saying the pipeline now poses no major damage.

That statement is open for a 45-day public comment period, and the Obama administration will make its decision later this year.

Recent oil pipeline spills in Arkansas and Texas, which weren’t related to the Keystone project, have nonetheless brought renewed attention to the proposed pipeline, especially among those who oppose it. Burton cited the oil spills as a reason his team decided to move forward with their launch of the coalition.

- CNNMoney's Steve Hargreaves and CNN's Candy Crowley contributed to this report.

Filed under: Bill Burton • Energy
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Its a bad deal !

    April 7, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. bill pike

    and your answer is??? and how do we stop sending money to the middle east that comes back to us as bombs? I am an oil man–owned oil and gas company for years--and i say lets stop using oil 100%–totally-WHEN we can but for now we are slaves to these oil countries. Iraq-you remember Iraq-has asked the other nations to stop our oil-IN TEXAS WE CALL THIS A CLUE.

    April 7, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  3. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    We do not need this pipeline, it's a disaster waiting to happen!

    April 7, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  4. PJ

    Until I see absolute proof of more jobs than the stated 5,000 from Transcanada; and
    when I see absolute proof that this oil is NOT being refined in a tax-free zone in South Texas for export and
    assurances that America can buy it and use it;
    And, most important, proof of quick response to any spillage, clean up, and why they consider this pipeline to be
    the safest ever built, (the other Keystone Pipeline has already had 14 leaks so far),
    I will never support it.
    And, if President Obama allows this pipeline without some written assurances from TransCanada, I won't support him
    anymore, either.

    April 7, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  5. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    I say any thing the gop garbage communist party is for ,the whole country should be againest , no brainer .if it puts money in the oil companies pockets and takes it out of ours vote againest it ,there are no jobs for Americans ,only temporary ones.

    April 7, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  6. Liz the First

    The administration is whitewashing the damage this pipeline and the filthy tar sands will create. real environmental scientists have stated it would be an unmitigated disaster for the climate. and what happens if a leak happens, by accident or by design, near one of our aquifers that millions of Americans rely on for clean drinking water? time to take all the money that would go to the pipeline construction and pour it into research into clean renewable fuels for our cars. we are running out of time to solve the climate crisis before this planet becomes unlivable for humans.

    April 7, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  7. B.

    Everyone has now witnessed what is possible this week with the -current pipeline break- in the middle of the housing community. Folks where not even aware of it’s existence before having stinking oil around their homes and flowing down the streets making everyone ill..

    Wake-up people!

    April 7, 2013 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  8. cranston b. whitmore III

    wheres all the jobs?

    April 7, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. Pete

    Bill Burton is right, down with the Keystone Pipeline and after you see how they clean up their past leaks you'll be thanking me later..Ask about Arkansas,Kalamazoo ,Michigan and others like in Alaska that have been enviromentaly damaged by their incompetance and carelessness and they think money heals all wounds but a leak from that caustic,toxic mix from Canada will never be cleaned properly and than you can ask your republican reps including your governors if its really worth it because you'll have to live with it they won't!!

    April 7, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  10. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    If the gop stooges for big oil say its good for America , vote againest it . Big oil is trying not to have to rent super tankers at their expence and transport it for free at our expence . Did you hear about their 60 year old unmaintained pipe line leak last week?????? The same oil and not even cleaned up yet . And did you best about the oil tax loophole so that they don't have to pay to clean the spills!!!!!!

    April 7, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  11. Catmandew

    The oil presently moves by rail I believe and because we are taking the risks. We should get some of it but at present would not so leave it as is. Heck with Canada and their interests they would do the same to us. If fact they already do by hauling the majority of their trash here to be put in our landfills using our resources in their interest we get nothing but trash from our neighbors to the north and no respect either. They think worse of us than the rest of the world does. I go there as an OTR driver and they treat American drivers like dirt!

    April 7, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  12. Name lynn

    the people dont care nothing about piplines, we care about budget cuts.

    April 7, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  13. chrissy

    Havent we humans screwed up our environment enough? And obviously havent learned much from it.

    April 7, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  14. Ed1


    Why would you want to create more jobs for US workers you would rather they depend on the Government for hand outs so you can control their votes.

    Why doesn't Obama, Democrats, and his Union buddies hear us out here stop the out of control spending and make cuts that we have to do to bring jobs and the economy back in the US.

    April 7, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  15. g

    its for export to china only

    April 7, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  16. Catmandew

    We don't need Canada pushin their pipeline thru our country!

    April 7, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  17. Grymmdog

    I'm reluctantly against the pipeline, so I believe the President shouldn't back it. Obama claims to support an all inclusive energy strategy, which could include the Keystone pipeline, but somehow this project seems different. This issue is a watershed moment for the Obama energy policy: support it and you reveal your true colors as a poser for changing direction in energy policy, while if he opposes it he makes a statement that we need to focus our efforts toward renewable resources. Yes I know we need the oil, jobs will be created, and we can't change our fossil fuel ways overnight, but this seems like a bad idea.

    April 7, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  18. Sam

    I guess obama doesnt care about the ecomony after all this pipeline is like a spending boast for the ecomony but the weidios kept getting in the way

    April 7, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  19. S.B. Stein

    The idea of this pipe line is questionable. The source of oil may be from an ally, but there needs to be a better source of energy. We need to develop a more reliable non-fossil fuel based energy grid that powers not only our buildings but our vehicles as well.

    April 7, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  20. russo

    This guy must be a bigger dufous than he appears to be

    April 7, 2013 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  21. basedonfact

    As noted by PBS’s the News Hour, 364 pipeline spills occurred in the United States last year, spilling an estimated 54,000 barrels of oil. Most of those incidents are small in scale, occur in remote areas, and are able to be contained quickly, but 1 a day oil spills is not something we can ignore

    April 8, 2013 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  22. bh

    i see this guy a young energetic sales guy, full of BS and bluster. sure he is a good cherleader, but he doesnt appear to be an analytical type who will prperly research this pl thing. i mean is this the type of guy we have put in charge of running technical things. who put the cheerleaders in charge of the game? have we all lost our minds. ahhhhhhhhhh we have all lost our brains.

    April 8, 2013 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  23. bh

    oil pipelines leak every single day with older ones failing the most. so a new pl would be so much less risky. this boob just wanted a high paying job and didnt care what it was. wake up america

    April 8, 2013 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  24. bh

    he excelled at running press conferences and advising obama on which to smile and what tie to wear. these newscaster types are holding power positions in government. doesnt that worry anyone. BSers did make america, doers did. how about a transportation guy make this decision, not some guy who screened your calls.

    April 8, 2013 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  25. wiseup:

    The pipeline rupture in Arkasas is an example of exxon's committment to maintain or replace pipeline. Why would the keystone line be any different.? Problem with this oil is it sinks in water, which makes clean up difficult unlike regular oil that floats and easier to clean up.

    April 8, 2013 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
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