Presumably hoping to light a fire underneath the Obama administration’s fully political dilly-dallying on the issue, the Senate went on record in support of the Keystone XL pipeline with a (frankly symbolic) 62-37 vote on an amendment in March — and now the House is getting ready to move on the (not just symbolic) Northern Route Approval Act (H.R. 3), which would move to pull and end-run around President Obama’s authority and pretty much approve the pipeline for him. Via The Hill:
The House will consider — and likely pass — a bill this month to expedite construction of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a Friday memo.
“In line with our underlying principles for legislation and our goal of helping make life work for American families and businesses, I expect the House to have a full legislative agenda in May. We will push the administration to finally approve the Keystone pipeline delivering much needed jobs and lower energy prices for families,” the memo said.
The legislation would circumvent President Obama’s authority to issue a cross-border permit needed to complete Keystone’s northern leg.
It’s expected to pass with full Republican support and the backing of some centrist Democrats who say Keystone will create jobs and bring oil from an ally.
Although the Keystone pipeline has plenty of majority and bipartisan support, I don’t know how many Democrats will actually be willing to vote to pull the rug out from underneath Obama, as trying to trump the president would be too much of an embarrassment for their party; the bill will very likely pass the House, but I doubt the measure would get nearly as much support in the Senate as did their earlier purely symbolic vote in favor of the pipeline.
The point, however, is that the longer the White House waits to finally make a decision, the worse it’s going to be for them, because nobody on either side is going to let the debacle fade away; honestly, I don’t know what it is the White House is waiting for… unless, of course, it’s to squeeze every last dime they can from zealously ‘green’-inclined Democratic donors who have managed to turn the relatively innocuous issue into the crusade du jour:
“Keystone is so tempting because if you stop it, it’s so visible. It’s such a scalp to have that I can see why some in the movement have said, ‘This is where I draw the line,’” the official said. “But it’s a very high-risk strategy. If they manage to stop the pipeline, then what’s next?”
Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House climate aide, called the anti-pipeline crusade misguided.
“The Keystone pipeline is a target of organizing convenience rather than a viable long-term strategy to curb oil sands emissions and thus, risks making mainstream environmental groups seem naive and misguided if it’s approved, as seems likely,” said Bledsoe, who’s now a senior energy fellow with the German Marshall Fund.