Government Unveils New Support Program For Film Industry — Or Does It?

In our April 5 issue, we had a mega-huge feature on the Sask. Party government’s decision to axe the Film Employment Tax Credit (FETC). We outlined what the economic, social and cultural benefits were to having a functioning film and TV industry in the province, and drove home the point that without such a credit Saskatchewan would be unable to compete for film and TV projects with the dozens of other jurisdictions in North America that have a tax credit. You can read more about it here and here.

After weathering weeks of criticism from many quarters about the short-sighted and mean-spirited nature of their decision, and conducting some negotiations with SMPIA (Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association) and other players in the film and TV industry to develop a replacement program, the government unveiled its answer yesterday.

Here’s a link to a brief CBC article.  What the government is offering is a non-refundable tax credit on 25 per cent of production costs. The FETC was tied specifically to labour costs, so while the percentage is lower than the 35-45 per cent credit under the old program, it potentially would cover more costs (ie materials, equipment rental, and other expenses).

The problem is that because it’s non-refundable, the only time a production company would be able to benefit is if it actually turned a profit on the film or TV production. If you’re dealing with a project helmed by Steven Spielberg or James Cameron that wouldn’t be a problem. But most of the industry activity that occurs in Saskatchewan (and most of North America outside of Hollywood) is of the independent variety. Money is cobbled together from multiple sources to cover production costs, but once the product enters the marketplace, it’s not like it’s destined to be a blockbuster and earn hundreds of millions in revenue to recoup production costs and turn a tidy profit.

So why bother with a film and TV industry then?

Well, under the old program, the government (and the local business and creative community) benefited in numerous ways. Once a production was green-lit in Saskatchewan, goods and services would be purchased, generating PST for the province and creating income for the business owners and the employees that provided the goods and services, which they would then pay tax on and spend at other local businesses. Saskatchewan residents would be hired to work on the film, generating income for them which they would then pay tax on and spend in their communities. As well, those residents would develop skill sets and production capacity that could be used in all sorts of creative endeavours outside of the original film or TV production.

It’s called a multiplier effect, and it’s not dependent on a production showing a profit at the end of the day. In the CBC report, you’ll see that the province estimates the cost of the new program at $1 million annually. That’s in contrast to the $8 million it said it would “save” by cutting the FETC. So obviously the new program will have nowhere near the same impact as the FETC, and SMPIA has already released a letter expressing concerns about how effective the new funding arrangement will be.  

“The new program is based upon a non-refundable tax credit program which has not been effective in other jurisdictions,” said SMPIA president Ron Goetz. “In fact, Saskatchewan’s program would be the only one in Canada that is not based on refundable tax credits.”

For now SMPIA is waiting to hear clarification from the government on how the program would work before it comments further.

Pick of the Day (Tomorrow Edition): Pet Expo

The fourth annual edition of this trade show goes Sunday at Conexus Arts Centre from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. I don’t own a pet myself, and have never actually been, but have it on good authority (thanks Spike) that you’ll find all sorts of valuable info on the general care and well-being of all the non-human creatures who we choose to co-habit with.

The event also serves as an opportunity to promote awareness about the programs and services offered by the Regina Humane Society. Admission is $5, with children 10 and under free.

And to get everyone in the mood, here’s a link to an audio recording of AC DC’s classic 1980 tune “Givin’ the Dog a Bone”.

More on InSAYSHAble

Stephen LaRose did a post last week about the new web comedy InSAYSHAble that debuts on May 9 (that’s a scene from the series above).

The series stars Regina-based actor Amy Maytsio as Saysha Grabinski, who is described in the advance publicity as “a hopeless romantic, incessant liar, and awkward as shit; the type of woman you make eye contact with and instantly know it was a mistake.” Oh yeah, Saysha’s also single, and as she nears 30 and finds herself moving from job to job as an office temp she’s very definitely on the prowl for a man to call her own.

InSAYSHAble is directed by Jeff Beesley, and was produced in Regina by Mark Montague and Matysio in association with Minds Eye Entertainment. There’s an ensemble cast that includes, among others, Christina Sicoli, Derek Baynham, Darla Biccum, David Milchard and Tess Degenstein.

InSAYSHAble will receive a real-time launch at Artesian on 13th on May 8 at 8 p.m. In addition to that show, Minds Eye will debut the premiere episode of its travel series Around the Next Bend. The launch is open to the public with a suggested donation of $5 (proceeds to support the SMPIA Redevelopment Committee).

On May 9, the first three episodes of InSAYSHAble will be available at www.insayshableonline.com After that, a new episode of the seven-part series will debut every week until June 6. For more information on the show, visit the above website.

To Make a Farm

Considering all the changes that have been happening in Canadian agriculture lately, what with the demise of the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly on the marketing of grain for export, the possible sale of Viterra to the Swiss conglomerate Glencore, and the likelihood that supply management in the dairy, egg and poultry industry will be on the trading block as the federal government pursues expanded trade agreements with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, this film by Steve Suderman is certainly timely.

To Make a Farm is a documentary where Suderman looks at five young Canadians from non-farming backgrounds who decide to take on the challenge of becoming small-scale farmers. To give you a sense of what the film’s like, here’s a link to a short excerpt.

To Make a Farm screens at the RPL Theatre Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 9 p.m. Along with the Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative, the RPL will present Suderman as a special guest at the Saturday screening.

Safeway Expansion Delayed

After winning city approval for an expanded and redesigned Safeway store on 13th Ave in the Cathedral area a few months ago, Safeway announced yesterday that after the tenders that came in for the project were “significantly higher” than expected that the project was going to be put on hold for a bit.

“We would have expected costs more comparable to a Vancouver, Winnipeg or Calgary” Safeway spokesperson John Graham said in a Leader-Post report, but Regina’s over-heated construction market apparently makes that impossible at present. Here’s the rest of the article here.

More Cannabis News

Here’s a link to a CBC story about a competition called the Harvest Cup that’s going to be held in Saskatchewan this fall where farmers who are licensed by Health Canada to grow cannabis will compete to see who is producing the best crop.

It ties in nicely with the story I did in our April 19 issue about 4-20 and the growing calls from respected medical experts like Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer Moira McKinnon that cannabis should be decriminalized and regulated in our society.

Some items of note. When I interviewed Head2Head’s Tim Selenski he said that with our generally sunny skies and reasonably warm summers, Saskatchewan had virtually unlimited potential to grow cannabis.

Also, the benefits of the plant aren’t just limited to medical and recreational use. There’s literally hundreds of different industrial applications for the plant and its fibres.

Finally, as the CBC story notes, when a person is licensed by Health Canada to grow cannabis, they are limited to growing enough for themselves and two other licensed users. As Lundstrom notes, he could be growing for 500 people, providing a safe, affordable and quality product for people who are in medical distress. But he currently is legally prohibited from doing so, which pushes people to the black market and helps fuel criminal/gang activity.

Are Albertans Held Captive By The Oil Industry?

Here’s a link to an interesting article in The Tyee where Mitchell Anderson proposes that when it comes to the oil industry, Albertans suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. That’s a term that was coined in the 1970s to describe a psychological condition where a person who is held hostage, through the stress of the ordeal, actually begins to develop sympathetic feelings for their captor.

Had Alberta the type of royalty regime proposed by former PC premier Peter Lougheed back in the ’70s when the first energy crisis hit, Mitchell notes, it would now have a Heritage Fund in excess of $200 billion that could be used to fund all sorts of programs for the benefit of Albertans. Instead, successive PC governments have ratcheted down royalty rates to the great benefit of the oil industry, but to the general impoverishment of the province.

True, in today’s political climate Lougheed, who in my mind ranks as the best premier Alberta’s ever had, would be labelled a radical pinko leftist commie bastard or some other inflammatory slur. But instead of running perennial deficits Alberta’s public finances would be in much better shape.

In contrast to Alberta, Mitchell observes, Norway set a reasonable royalty rate for its off-shore oil resources, and now has a $570 billion fund to use for the benefit of Norweigans today and for generations to come. Mitchell also notes Newfoundland was initially bullied by the oil industry when its off-shore resources were being developed, but that former premier Danny Williams held firm and was able to secure a much more favourable royalty deal that includes an equity stake in the Hebron oil field.

That’s the magic of natural resources, I guess. Under free trade agreements, corporations engaged in activities like manufacturing and r & d do have some leverage to demand concessions or they can pack up and move elsewhere. If they want to access a natural resource in a stable political climate with a reliable infrastructure network and dependable labour force, though, they don’t have the same clout. Of course, if you infect the government with active lobbyist for your industry, you can still get your way. That’s why following Monday’s election, Alberta might slip further into captivity as 13 of the Wildrose Party’s 87 candidates, according to Mitchell, have direct ties to the oil and gas industry.

Saskatchewan is arguably suffering the same fate as Alberta. When the Sask. Party first started out, it was essentially bankrolled by the Calgary oil-patch. And five years into its reign, it adamantly refuses to entertain any discussion of bumping royalty rates on non-renewable resources to ensure the province’s long-term prosperty.

In the area of potash, with several existing mines being expanded, and new mines being built, the prospect exists of the potash market very shortly being flooded. My understanding of the royalty regime is that when prices are high, as they were in 2008 (around $800 a ton), the province reaps a royalty windfall. When prices are low, the amount the province receives drops dramatically. Full-on production at bargain basement prices probably suits international mining companies fine. I hesitate to say, though, that it’s in the best interests of current and future generations of Saskatchewan citizens.

MintChip — Mmn, Mmn, Good

In last month’s federal budget, Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that the production of the lowly penny would be discontinued to save everyone the hassle of having to deal with something of negligible value.

Now, the Canadian Mint is proposing to develop a new form of digital currency called MintChip that would enable users, through a mobile device like a smart phone, USB stick or computer, to make small purchases both in person and on-line.

Here’s a link to a short news item in Maclean’s that also includes a link to a video the Mint’s produced on the subject. When you consider the cost of producing physical currency (which is itself an abstract expression of value), moving it around, protecting it from robbers and muggers, counting and recounting it at millions of tills across the country every day, etc., there’s a huge inherent cost to a cash economy. Switching to strictly digital transactions would reduce that cost significantly.

As Jesse Brown notes in his Maclean’s article, MintChip would open the door for a more viable form of e-commerce involving micro-payments each time a user accessed information on a website — be it a news article, a music video, a movie trailer, whatever. The payments might be measured in pennies, but with a potential global market numbering in the billions, it could add up.

Why, at three cents a pop, noted climate change skeptic Tom Harris alone would have kicked 24 cents into the prairie dog kitty in the last day based on the eight comments he made on one measly blog post.

It won’t happen overnight, but it seems inevitable that MintChip will happen.

Sound Investment Advice

Any investors out there? If so, how does an 11.9 per cent annual return sound?

With interest rates at an historic low, and most equity markets declining in value in 2011, I’d take an 11.9 per cent return on my investments any day.

So just where were these miraculous returns achieved? In some high risk venture tied to diamond-mining in the Northwest Territories or gold mining in Zambia? No, according to an article by Financial Planner Jason Heath in the Vancouver Sun they were achieved by the Canada Pension Plan.

In its mania to force Canadians to become responsible for their own retirement security, the Harper government has whittled away at the existing CPP and Old Age Security framework, and bent over backwards to introduce new investment vehicles like Tax Free Savings Accounts and Pooled Registered Pension Plans to help thrifty Canadians everywhere take charge of their financial future.

So how was the CPP able to achieve such an outstanding rate of return? Here’s Heath’s take:

Was it stock picking? No. In fact, they employ a combination of passive and active investment selection, so the stock selection component of the returns is limited. Diversification? Yes, but some of that diversification is into assets that the average Canadian retail investor has trouble accessing, regardless of the critics who are sure to say otherwise. The fact is, Ma and Pa Canada don’t have exposure to the private equities, private debt, infrastructure or commercial real estate the CPP is able to add to your portfolio.

So it would seem that if the Harper government was really serious about helping Canadians prepare for retirement, as opposed to essentially privatizing this area of our financial well-being and handing it over to investment firms, banks, and insurance agencies, it should be increasing the CPP’s capacity not shrinking it.

Here’s how Heath put it at the end of the article: Low costs, high returns and no conflicts of interest. CPP expansion is something the average Canadian should get behind.

Vancouver Nightmare

The adjacent photo has been making the rounds on Facebook. A friend I know who lives in Vancouver and works in the real estate industry swears it’s true.

It’s of a house in what’s described as the “prestigious” Kerrisdale district, close to shopping, a secondary school and community centre. Two bedrooms, one bathroom on the 800 sq. foot main floor, a two bedroom/one bathroom rental suite in the basement.

Anyone want to guess what the list price is?

Breaking News From Bay Street

Among Canadian media insiders, rumours have been circulating for several days that a consortium with international backing has launched a bid to assume control of Regina-based prairie dog magazine and its sister publication Planet S in Saskatoon.

Over the last few years, one Toronto-based analyst observed in an off-the-record interview, there’s been a swirl of activity in Saskatchewan’s media marketplace as businesses rush to capitalize on the province’s resource and commodity-fueled boom. “Honestly, I’ve lost track of how many publications have sprung up,” he confessed. “There’s three or four associated with the Fine Lifestyles brand, all catering to upscale Reginans and Saskatonians eager to spend their way to social respectability. Then there’s Pink, Verb, City Slicker, and a new free Canada-wide daily called Metro is expected to hit the streets any day now. And of course last fall Post Media launched its own faux alt weeklies QC in Regina and Bridges in Saskatoon.

“The broadcasting sector has seen similar expansionary growth,” the analyst added. “Believing there’s money to be made in Saskatchewan, City and Sun TV have both established a presence in the province in the last year.”

In the wake of BHP Billiton’s failed $39 billion takeover of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan in 2010, and the proposed $6.1 billion takeover of Viterra Inc. by Swiss commodities golaith Glencore, the news that two of Saskatchewan’s most venerable media outlets are in play is creating major buzz, said the analyst.

Cooperatively owned, both magazines will soon celebrate milestone anniversaries. In September, Planet S turns ten, while next February prairie dog will mark its 20th anniversary as Regina’s self-styled “independent voice.”

Covetous of that indie cred, media consortiums in other North American cities have been gobbling up alt-weeklies. “The fundamentals here are a little different,” the analyst noted. “As far as alt-markets go, Regina and Saskatoon, although growing, are still fairly small. There’s a pretty stubborn conservative streak among residents in the two cities too that doesn’t cotton too kindly to voices from the so-called ‘looney left’ when it comes to issues like the environment, the arts, sustainable urban planning, social justice, and whatnot.”

Still, given the long history of the magazines in Saskatchewan, and the role they’ve traditionally played in advancing progressive causes, the analyst suspects that should a takeover attempt be mounted, the Saskatchewan government will be watching closely. “In the case of Potash Corp. and Viterra, premier Brad Wall laid out very clear guidelines, saying that before he would sign off on any takeover it would have to be evaluated to determine if it provided a net benefit to Saskatchewan and Canada. Given the importance of media in our information age, I’d expect the Sask. Party government to take a similar stance with prairie dog and Planet S.”

We’ll have more on this story as it unfolds.

Cannabis Madness

Twenty eight current and former American law enforcement officials  already told our federal government that it’s making a huge mistake with mandatory minimum sentences in Bill C-10 for minor drug offences. Now,  the Harper government has received another rebuke in a paper by the chief medical officers of B.C., Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan that calls for cannabis to be decriminalized and taxed, and regulated like tobacco and alcohol.

Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan — who also recently admitted he didn’t have a clue how much the federal government’s “tough on crime” agenda will cost Saskatchewan through increased expenses for police, courts, prisons and parole services — responded by saying he respects the health officials’ view, but  “addicts” — which I guess includes anybody who indulges in the recreational use of this substance that’s legal in a growing number of states south of the border and countries around the world — belong in jail.

Premiere Screening

Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum Theatre, Trilight Entertainment will be screening its new feature film Vampire Dog. The film, Trilight notes in its press release, was shot entirely in Saskatchewan with the assistance of the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit. Over 200 people were employed in the making of the film in Regina and Moose Jaw, and over 90 per cent of the cast consists of Saskatchewan performers.

Trilight describes Vampire Dog as a family-friendly film about a boy who inherits a 600-year-old talking dog from his Transylvanian grandfather. Students from several local elementary schools have been invited to the premiere, and proceeds from the screening will go to benefit the Regina Humane Society.

Pick of the Day: The Chocolate Farmer

Directed by Rohan Fernando, this NFB documentary screens tonight at the RPL Theatre at 7 p.m. It sees Fernando travel to a remote corner of the Belize rain forest where he meets Eladio Pop, a Mayan who seeks to provide for his family of six and honour his ancestral ways by harvesting and processing cacao beans by hand to make chocolate.

The film apparently serves as somewhat of a elegy for Pop’s way of life, which is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain in the wake of global competition from large-scale chocolate producers. 

Also on the bill is a NFB animated short about the Alberta tarsands called Black Gold.  Here’s a link to the trailer for The Chocolate Farmer.

Another doc is screening in town tonight too. It’s called Miss Representation, and it examines the way prominent women are represented (or, more accurately, misrepresented) in mainstream media. Miss Representation screens at W.S. Hawrylak School (2530 Assiniboine Ave. E.) at 6:30 p.m. Here’s the trailer.

Saskatchewan Fashion Week

This morning a press conference was held at Hill Tower II in downtown Regina to announce the launch of Saskatchewan Fashion Week. The event will run from May 7-12, with the bulk of the activity occurring May 10-12, when the City Square Plaza will be transformed into what organizers describe as an avant-garde runway space that will showcase creations from Saskatchewan fashion designers and their colleagues in other creative industries like hair styling, make-up and modelling.

“Saskatchewan Fashion Week is not only an event, it is the beginning of a legacy of design, creativity and entrepreneurship that is sustainable [as an] industry in Saskatchewan,” said SFW director Candyce Bakke in a press release.

“The long-term goal for SFW is to attract designers and creators to return to the province and collaborate with skilled professionals in this industry to leverage their entrepreneurial success,” added co-chair Chelsea O’Connell.

Hosting today’s press conference was Tammy Beltrami, owner of Aria Boutique on the F.W. Hill Mall (far right in above photo). In addition to remarks from Mayor Pat Fiacco, the event also included a short fashion show featuring work by designers Dean Renwick, Tracy George-Heese, Garth Roseth and Danine Schlosser.

You can see their designs after the jump. And for more information on Saskatchewan Fashion Week visit saskfashionweek.com

Continue reading “Saskatchewan Fashion Week”

Bills 5 & 6

Queen’s Bench Justice Dennis Ball’s decision on the constitutionality of the Public Services Essential Services Act (Bill 5) and the Trade Union Amendment Act (Bill 6) was issued on Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning, I did a short interview with Charles Smith, a constitutional and labour law expert who teaches at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon, for a news brief on the judgement. Here’s a link to the brief.

Ball’s ruling runs 132 pages. Most of it concerns Bill 5. In his judgment, Ball didn’t dispute the government’s right to pass essential services legislation. As he noted, most provinces in Canada have some form of legislation to ensure that services that are essential to the health and safety of citizens aren’t adversely affected during a strike involving public sector workers. Prior to the legislation being passed, essential services were provided at the discretion of the union involved. Outside of a few isolated instances, unions generally ensured that the public’s welfare was looked after.

When the government introduced Bill 5, it did so with little consultation with organized labour. In the bill, it gave employers virtually blanket authority to deem employees as essential. In the area of Health, that resulted in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities declaring over 80 per cent of their employees as essential. While recreation therapists, maintenance personnel and other staff undoubtedly make an important contribution to the long-term well-being of patients and residents it’s a bit of a stretch to deem them as essential to the institution’s operation.

Continue reading “Bills 5 & 6”

Cagey Caterpillar Closes London Plant

The other day, the $60 billion heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar announced that it would be shutting a locomotive plant in London, Ont and moving production to a plant in Muncie, Indiana. The 450 workers in London belong to the Canadian Auto Workers Union, and they had been locked out since January 1 after they balked at taking a substantial pay cut that would have reduced hourly wages from the $34 an hour range to $16 an hour. Here’s a link to a report in The Star.

A few things of note: in 2008 the London plant received a $5 million tax break from the federal government to help it upgrade equipment and remain competitive in the global economy. Four months after Caterpillar purchased the plant in June 2010 it purchased an abandoned manufacturing facility in Muncie. According to this Globe & Mail report, the move to shift production to Muncie was made just 36 hours after Indiana’s governor signed into law “right to work” legislation that will make it hard for any prospective union to organize a workplace in the state which has been hit hard by the ongoing U.S. recession. Workers in Muncie will receive wages in the $12-$14.50 an hour range. Finally, once the London plant is closed, Caterpillar will be free transfer all its equipment and intellectual property (which was paritally paid for by Canadian taxpayers) to Muncie.

So all in all, not a bad bit of corporate bull-dozing. In response to the London closure, Mark’s Work Wearhouse has apparently said it will be pulling Caterpillar’s line of workboots from it’s its London-area stores.

Andrew in Wonderland

Weird column in today’s Leader-Post by Andrew Coyne (pictured). It’s about federal NDP leadership hopeful Thomas Mulcair and the fact that, in addition to being a Canadian citizen by birth, he also holds French citizenship through his marriage to a French-born woman.

In the first part of the columnCoyne lists a number of countries like Australia, Demark, Norway, Germany and Japan that require anyone who becomes a citizen of a foreign country to forfeit their citizenship in their home  country.

No problem there. But after musing about the balance Canada has struck between being open to people from other lands and the fealty we expect from them, Coyne veers into looney-land and starts waxing poetically about the glories of Canadian citizenship and the demands it places on us. This sentence in particular jumped out at me:

And these in turn depend upon an expectation that we are, in some more fundamental sense, committed to each other: that we are pledged, not merely to live with each other, but to be bound by and to each other, and to that enterprise in which we are all engaged, the construction of a society based on justice.

I’m not sure where Coyne has been for the last 30 years, but doesn’t he realize that his concept of citizenship is decidedly old-school and idealistic in the extreme? I believe former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said it best in 1987:

I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.

The technical term for that philosophical take on humanity is Homo Economicus. It’s the basis of most neo-liberal political and economic thought, and assumes that human beings are rational creatures whose actions are motivated exclusively by their desire to maximize their “utility” — be it through monetary or non-monetary means. In plain language, we look out for #1. We don’t concern ourselves with justice and other airy-fairy ideas like equality, fairness, community, environmental sustainability and anything else that doesn’t enhance our material well-being.

Usually, I enjoy Coyne’s insights into Canadian politics. But in this instance he really missed the boat.

Pick of the Day: Think & Drink

This is a new once-a-month initiative at Creative City Centre (1843 Hamilton). As part of CCC’s mandate to boost the business skills of local artists through the Regina Arts & Business Network, it’s a mixer designed to bring people in different creative fields together to meet each other and brainstorm on ways to promote the creative industries in Regina.

The inaugural event goes tonight from 5-8 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., Taron Cochrane, Marketing & Promotions Manager of the Regina Symphony Orchestra, will give a short talk titled: What’s YOUR Soundtrack?  Making the Perfect Mix-Tape for Your Life. There’s a cash bar, along with snacks, so if you’re in the neighbourhood check it out.

Keystone Kaput

CBC:

The U.S. government has denied an application by TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline, the State Department announced Wednesday. A statement released by the department said it doesn’t preclude TransCanada applying again with a different route. The Canadian government wanted to see the pipeline go ahead. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said the government hopes a new TransCanada application will be approved, but Canada is going to look to other markets to sell its oil. “It is clear that the process is not yet over,” Oliver said.

The Washington Post:

Obama said that a Feb. 21 deadline set by Congress as part of the two-month payroll tax cut extension had made it impossible to do an adequate review of the pipeline project proposed by TransCanada. “This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people,” the president said in a statement.

The Guardian:

Environmental groups immediately hailed the decision as David versus Goliath victory for an unlikely coalition between national activists and Nebraska landowners opposed to the pipeline’s route across an ecologically sensitive area known as the Sand Hills.

Last word to Desmog Blog:

While it’s good to see that President Obama is standing up to oil industry bullying and Republican pressure to fast-track the permit, this still means Keystone XL is very much in play. If it’s ever built, Keystone XL will allow the expansion of the Alberta tar sands that climate scientists worry will send us down a dangerous path of global warming pollution. What’s more, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, if built, would increase oil prices in the American Midwest. That’s the shocking takeaway point from a bombshell report about Keystone XL as an export pipeline released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Oil Change International. We’ve reported time and time again here on DeSmogBlog, the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would not improve America’s energy security, but never has that reality been more clearly conveyed than by this one real-world point that is worth repeating. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would increase oil prices in the Midwest.