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Pipeline Politics
Obama Says He’ll Veto Keystone Bill

The White House preempted Congress today, saying the President would veto any potential bill that attempts to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. That legislation was tapped by Mitch McConnell as the top priority for the new GOP-controlled Senate, which looks to have 63 votes in favor of the project—above the 60 needed to circumvent any filibuster by the Democrats, but well short of the 67 required to override Obama’s veto. The House has passed similar legislation in the past, and with the Senate looking to open discussion on the bill later this week, Obama seems to be strongly signaling that their efforts will be in vain.

This doesn’t exhaust Congress’s options for pushing the Keystone issue, though, as Reuters reports:

If [President Obama] rejects this bill, Keystone backers will attempt to attach the measure to wider legislation Obama could find harder to veto, perhaps legislation on energy efficiency, exporting natural gas, or on appropriations.

The President has long insisted that the pipeline was a State Department matter, and has effectively used that approval process to punt on the issue for six years running now. Obama appears to be torn between the facts of the case—that the pipeline itself is just a conduit for crude, and as such has no effect on global emissions—and the optics of it all, which in recent years have veered farther and farther away from these aforementioned facts. Greens have made Keystone their marquee issue, and the President is wary of polluting his environmental legacy in his last years in office. If he had his druthers, we don’t doubt Obama would love to kick the Keystone can down the road all the way to his successor.

But it looks like Congress is going to force his hand, and as the President’s excuses for delaying continue to evaporate, it looks like he’ll soon have to make a decision. Unfortunately, it increasingly looks like that choice will be a political rather than a rational one based on the merits.

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  • Corlyss

    Whadda shock! Obama does what many of us said he would do. The man’s a 100% ideologue.

  • Andrew Allison

    ” 63 votes in favor of the project—above the 60 needed to circumvent any filibuster by the Democrats, but well short of the 67 required to override Obama’s veto.” Well short? How about: they only needs to pick up four votes from the two “independents” who have an opportunity to demonstrate their independence, and 44 Dems who are either unhappy with the President or choose to vote their conscience .

  • FriendlyGoat

    It’s hard to imagine the Keystone players investing billions in a pipeline for $50 or $40 or $30 oil. It’s also hard to imagine that ordinary people will hold onto the GOP-spun idea that the pipeline would lower their gasoline prices—-when prices have dropped like a rock anyway.

    In the present price environment, McConnell’s “first priority” is little more than a stale symbolic thing to try to threaten, intimidate and embarrass Obama. With luck, his first official action as Majority Leader will hit a wall. An initial veto is definitely needed ASAP, and it might as well be on this mostly-moot (at today’s prices) issue.

    • Josephbleau

      I don’t understand, even if oil in Athabasca were free at the refinery it would still need to be transported to where it is needed preferably safely by pipe instead of less safely by rail or tanker. Dosen’t the price at the gas station include a markup for transporting the oil from Athabasca to your local gas station? Would not that cost be lowered further by efficient transport? Would that not further lower cost to the customer as much as commodity cost reduction? Mr. Obama has political favors and rewards he needs to give to his green supporters, why should he be immune to public opinion when he grants these green rents to those who supported him? I have seen other recent Senate Majority Leaders threaten, intimidate and embarrass other politicians, politics is not bean bag, elections have consequences.

      • FriendlyGoat

        I could be wrong, but I just don’t think the Keystone investors have all that much appetite for this pipeline with the events of the last few months in the oil market. That’s why I think McConnell’s main goal is to try to make a monkey out of Obama. I hope he doesn’t succeed. The world does not need this pipe anytime soon, anyway.

  • Lyle7

    What a full of it so and so President Obama is. Says he cares about jobs and the environment, and yet this man is going to veto the Keystone bill. Really shameful.

  • johngbarker

    If the greens are so interested in the environment why not give up air conditioning and set the winter thermostat to 62, take trains to environmental conferences, and eat only food that can be grown within 50 miles. I am sure there are other worthy sacrifices that can be made to provide examples and models of correct behavior for the rest of us.

  • JR

    I’ve learned long ago that if something is obvious to me, it is obvious to a lot of other people who are way smarter than me. This is a case in point. OF COURSE Obama was going to veto Keystone. I knew it, you knew it, the bum on the corner knew it. Therefore, it stands to reason that GOP leadership in Congress knew it. The point of the bill is not to build a pipeline, but to have Obama veto it and then have Hillary explain in 2016 how she is FOR white working class but AGAINST jobs for white working class. Alternatively, if she comes in favor of Keystone, she will earn the ire of the loony Lefties and increase the chance of primary challenger. This debate hasn’t been about the pipeline itself, and hasn’t been for some time.

  • Arkeygeezer

    The Keystone pipeline from Alberta Canada to Missouri has been built, pumping over 400,000 gallons of shale oil per day, and has been operational since 2010.
    The fight is about a second, larger pipeline from Alberta through Kansas to Missouri to join the existing pipeline down to Louisiana. This is purely a political fight with no great ramifications one way or the other.

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