President Obama has changed his tune on Keystone recently, leading many to expect the Administration to reject the pipeline’s permit in the coming months. The Hill reports:
[H]is public remarks indicate strong reservations about letting Keystone proceed. “It could create a couple of thousand potential jobs in the initial construction of the pipeline, but we’ve got to measure that against whether or not it is going to contribute to an overall warming of the planet that could be disastrous,” he said during an appearance on “The Colbert Report” in December.The State Department estimated last year that Keystone would support 42,000 jobs. But of the jobs it would create, only 35 would be permanent, while several thousand would be temporary construction positions.Obama gave one of his worst reviews of Keystone later in December, when he said the project would be “good for the Canadian oil industry but it’s not going to be a huge benefit to U.S. consumers, it’s not even going to be a nominal benefit to U.S. consumers.”
In the summer of 2013, the President’s tone on Keystone was markedly different. In a speech he gave on climate change at Georgetown University, Obama said he would permit Keystone “only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” At the time, this seemed like the President was laying the groundwork for approving the pipeline. After all, study after study has shown the pipeline won’t have a significant impact on global emissions, because the crude in Canada’s oil sands will find a way to refineries with or without Keystone.But since then the President’s rhetoric has taken a more critical turn. His focus on the dirtiness of oil sands drilling, while certainly true, is besides the point—Keystone neither enables nor disables that production. His critiques of how little the U.S. stands to gain from this have earned him “four Pinocchios” from Washington Post fact-checkers; studies have shown that much of the crude coming down the Keystone pipeline will be consumed here in America, and moreover that nearly 12 percent of the pipeline’s capacity will be devoted to our very own booming Bakken shale fields in North Dakota. And his recent harping on how little this benefits the U.S. also completely ignore how helpful this would be to Canada, one of our most important allies.Reading the tea leaves, it seems the President is being swayed by opponents of Keystone, and that’s unfortunate. His administration should have green-lit it years ago, but first green outrage and now partisan politics have hijacked what ought to have been a straightforward decision. But what may be worse than the signs that Obama is now be leaning against approval is the fact that we’re left to speculate like this some six years after the project was initially proposed. With the President’s excuses for delays evaporating, we hold out hope this saga will soon end.