01/31/2013 01:41 EST | Updated 01/31/2013 01:43 EST

Nature Editorial Urges Obama To Approve Keystone XL Pipeline

FILE - This March 22, 2012 file photo shows President Barack Obama arriving at the TransCanada Stillwater Pipe Yard in Cushing, Okla. Embarking on a second term, Obama faces mounting pressure on a decision he had put off during his re-election campaign: whether to approve the $7 billion proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline between the U.S. and Canada. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

President Barack Obama should approve the Keystone XL pipeline as part of his plan to reduce U.S. greenhouse emissions and combat climate change, the prominent scientific journal Nature said in an editorial posted earlier this week.

The journal, one of the most influential scientific publications in the world, said approving Keystone would help Obama build support from conservatives and industry and bolster U.S. energy security.

"The administration should face down critics of the project, ensure that environmental standards are met and then approve it. As Nature has suggested before ... the pipeline is not going to determine whether the Canadian tar sands are developed or not," the journal states.

The editorial also pointed out that concerns about the dirtiness of Alberta's oil are overstated. But the writers did point out that "tar-sands development raises serious air- and water-quality issues in Canada, but these problems are well outside Obama’s jurisdiction."


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TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline was a political flashpoint during the 2012 election season. The Obama administration temporarily rejected TransCanada's application in January 2012 amid protests that the pipeline's route would endanger sensitive areas in Nebraska. The company filed another application in September which changed the pipeline's route. The new route was approved by Nebraska's governor earlier this month.

Environmentalists have long opposed the pipeline and they have ratcheted up their efforts in recent weeks. The Sierra Club has said that it would participate in 'civil disobedience' and consider illegal actions to protest the pipeline. Prominent climate change activist Bill McKibben is organizing a protest rally in Washington, D.C. in February.

A group of 18 prominent climate change scientists recently gave President Obama the opposite advice that Nature is offering, urging the U.S. president to reject the pipeline.