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Pipeline Politics
Obama Kills the Keystone Bill

The thing that was promised and that everyone expected to happen, happened today. President Obama vetoed a bill that would have approved the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, criticizing what he saw as the intent to “circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.” The Hill reports:

The veto — just the third of Obama’s presidency — was made in private and without fanfare, reflecting the tensions in the Democratic Party over whether the pipeline should be approved. […]

“The presidential power to veto is one I take seriously … and because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety and environment — it has earned by veto, [the President said in his veto statement.]”

You’ll excuse us for not getting too excited about this—the veto is not the end of this increasingly frustrating saga of regulatory indecision. Six years after its initial proposal, the controversial pipeline is still stuck in limbo. The State Department is said to be readying a final decision, but we’ve heard that before, and recent court rulings in Nebraska have given John Kerry new excuses to avoid putting this issue to bed.

Which is unfortunate, because Keystone has undeniably become something of a nuisance. Recently co-opted as a political football by the new GOP-controlled Congress, the pipeline’s approval no longer seems to hinge on its merits (if it did, Keystone would have been green lit years ago), but rather on the optics surrounding it. Greens have—bizarrely, it has to be said—made Keystone a make-or-break issue for Obama’s environmental legacy, seemingly abandoning all other issues for a project which report after report has concluded will have a negligible effect on global emissions.

Let the dithering continue.

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  • Andrew Allison

    It’s pandering, not dithering! And to heck with the anticipated 20 derailments a year.

    • f1b0nacc1

      That’s an excellent point, actually….he doesn’t have any problem with pandering, it is anything else that he dithers about….

  • FriendlyGoat

    If the Keystone is economically and environmentally a good idea, the north section will eventually be built. Meanwhile, this bill at this time is the first “ram-it-down-Obama’s-throat” product of the new Congress—-and veto is the only sensible action. I hope and suspect that several more vetoes of intentionally-provocative bills will likewise follow in rapid succession. Then, we’ll see what Congress can do about being sensible.

    • Fred

      Meanwhile, this bill at this time is the first “ram-it-down-Obama’s-throat” product of the new Congress–and veto is the only sensible action.

      Oh I see. So when a Republican House stymies Obama proposals they’re “obstructionist” and “do-nothing.” But when Obama vetoes a Republican bill “veto is the only sensible action.” And I assume your definition of “sensible and bipartisan” means going along with what Democrats want to do. Do you ever actually listen to yourself?

      • FriendlyGoat

        Yes, but I find myself wondering whether Republicans listen to themselves much. We see “some stuff” blowing in from the right, as you know, on this site.

        And, yes, bi-partisan actually means Republicans seriously going along with some of the things Democrats want to do. In return, they should reasonably expect Democrats going along with some of the things Republicans want (or said in the past) that they wanted to do. Consider Obamacare which was modeled on Republican ideas out of the nineties and actually amended to several Republican suggestions. What did we Dems get in cooperation on that?

        The fact of the matter is, the new Congress has many members being propelled by funders telling them to make no compromise whatsoever on anything. You know that from being attuned to the noise on your side. Obama now knows it too, and we Dems are hoping he acts accordingly. The idea is to bust these trouble-makers again and again until they either become sensibly bi-partisan or until people get sick of their shtick and replace them (while electing Hillary).

        • Fred

          Your Obamacare example is a red herring. Romneycare was passed by a rather liberal Republican in the bluest state in America. It was hardly representative of Republican thinking even when it was passed, and time has moved on. And precisely what has Barrack “I won” Obama ever compromised on? Look, when conservatives in the House were attempting to block policies they considered disastrous and could not get legislation past the Democratic Senate, liberals were screaming “obstructionists!” “do-nothings!” “keeping the nation’s business from getting done!” and such-like canards. Now that the conservatives have “done something” and legislation is actually going to the president’s desk, all of a sudden obstruction is good and necessary, and doing no business is better than doing bad business. The whole thing positively reeks of hypocrisy. If you believe particular Republican legislation is bad and should be vetoed, fine. Make that argument. But at least have the decency to recognize that to conservatives, liberal policy seems as disastrous as conservative policy seems to you, and conservatives blocked Obama’s policies from precisely the same motivation Obama is now blocking theirs. That way, we can keep the focus on the policies themselves rather than on hypocritical recriminations, demonization, and ad hominems. You might also look up the words “compromise” and “capitulation” in the dictionary. You seem to have confused them.

      • Andrew Allison

        I assume that your question was rhetorical.

        • Fred


    • Andrew Allison

      Oh, puhleeze! Before the Nebraska Supreme Court tore off it’s fig leaf, State had acknowledged that the oil will get pumped anyway and, absent Keystone, be transported by train and that the injuries and deaths resulting therefrom are several orders of magnitude greater than pipeline transmission (check out pages 8-10 of the amended environmental impact report). Only then did State (which, like the IRS and who knows what other departments), has become a lawless political slave of the current Administration), decide that the issue needed further study. As to setting the proper tone, may I remind you that it was the petulant man-child currently occupying the White House, who has apparently forgotten both his Constitutional Law and that the elections have consequences, who threw down the gauntlet, and that he is 0 for 13 and counting at the Supreme court. And before you suggest that the Supremes are partial to anything other than the law, let me also remind you that it was they who saved ACA from the untimely death which, as is slowly becoming apparent, it so richly deserved.

      • FriendlyGoat

        The Supremes we’re a Motown singing group. Four liberals and a reluctant Chief Justice

        The five Justices at the Supreme Court (Scalia, Thomas Alito, Kennedy and Roberts) who are slapping citizens (not slapping Obama) are not crazy. They are male, Republican and Catholic. All five of the problem people there are all three adjectives, which should be enough to get public opinion to light up their shorts when they vote together against the others—–ESPECIALLY for plaintiffs in a case against people such as King v. Burwell (if all of them do).
        We should all be yelling about the three adjectives ahead of time to prevent them from voting together in the first place, BECAUSE There is something odious about five guys from a single church being political cowboys on a Court. Has a bad whiff to it, you know?

        As for Keystone, if it makes economic and environmental sense, it will get built. The Congress, however, is using it for posture statements. That’s why a veto right now is both proper and important.

        • Andrew Allison

          Did you actually read my reply which suggested that you refrain from the utterly predictable response that the Supreme Court is crazy (I was addressing somebody who obviously believes that male Republican and Catholic justices are crazy)? To quote the your intellectual buddy Anthony, Get a Life!

          • FriendlyGoat

            Yes, I actually read your reply and almost all of them regularly. You don’t have to get snitty just because you didn’t make a substantive argument to describe the problem. I don’t think those Justices are crazy. I think they are Machiavellian GOP operatives that their own church people ought to be shaming from coast to coast for the things they have together done.

    • Corlyss

      Keystone was intentionally provocative???? Who knew, just because 65% of registered voters approve of it and want it built last week, many Congressional Democrats wanted it built just because their constituents wanted it built and a favorite suck up group (unions) wanted it built, and many of those legislators had said they would would vote with Republicans (what we call a head fake).

      Completely unsurprisingly, the Dems snatched away the football at the last instant. Screw the voters. Screw the unions. Screw cheaper, safer oil, jobs, cheap energy prosperity. They were loyal to their first black president, even if he is a dimwit. I don’t suppose decisions like that have anything to do with their precipitous return to the minority.

  • Fat_Man

    And when a railroad car of flaming oil lands on your house, I want you to thank Obama for his efforts at making our environment cleaner.

  • adk

    “increasingly frustrating saga of regulatory indecision…Let the dithering continue”

    What “indecision” and “dithering”? Who writes this stuff? It’s been perfectly clear Obama was always dead set against this pipeline, and would use every excuse to stop this project. So either Republicans can peel off enough Democrats to override his veto or it’ll become an issue in 2016. That’s all to it.

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