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President Barack Obama said Tuesday he would not approve of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project to bring oil from Canada to American refineries, unless it has no net negative effect on carbon emissions, during a sweeping speech at Georgetown University.

The pipeline has been a flashpoint between environmentalists who want the entire effort nixed and conservatives and energy sector businesses who see it as a jobs and economic boon.

“Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interests,” he said, speaking before a crowd of a couple hundred invited guests that included cabinet members and members of Congress. “[They] will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”

Obama also unveiled a broad plan to reduce carbon emissions – including directing the Environmental Protection Agency to limit pollution from new and existing power plants can – citing human and economic costs.

“I refuse to condemn your generation and future generation to a planet that’s beyond fixing,” he said.

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