Has Obama decided to reject the Keystone XL pipeline already?

posted at 2:21 pm on April 24, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

That’s what Rolling Stone magazine hears from its sources, although the sequence of events last week might call their sources into question. This scooplet came in a lengthy and salutary profile of Barack Obama’s reinvigorated enthusiasm for environmental issues, although Jeff Goodell writes that the Keystone XL pipeline has “become a kind of albatross,” and blames – who else? — the Koch Brothers for that. But the decision has already been made, Goodell insists, and the only remaining issue is when to make the announcement (via Jeff Dunetz):

For the White House, the fight over the pipeline has become a kind of albatross, one that is getting in the way of more constructive progress. Sources close to the president say he is eager to get it off his plate. “I’m confident that the president is aware of every nuance of this debate,” says Zichal. Activists meet him everywhere he goes with handwritten signs urging him to kill the pipeline, and he gets letters from Democratic senators in tough re-election fights, including Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, arguing that if he delays approval of the pipeline any longer, it could cost them the election.

What senators like Landrieu and Pryor fear, of course, is the Koch brothers’ attack machines. Koch Industries is indeed one of the largest landowners in northern Alberta, holding leases to more than a million acres in the tar-sands region, and they stand to profit hugely if the pipeline is approved. But as with the power-plant rules, the impact that rejecting Keystone will actually have with the electorate is far from clear. Tiernan Sittenfeld, an analyst with the League of Conservation Voters, points out that in the 2012 election, Keystone supporters spent $11 million to target anti-Keystone candidates in 18 races – and none of them lost. In the 2014 election, it doesn’t hurt that billionaire Tom Steyer has pledged that his political-action committee, NextGen Climate Action, will spend $100 million targeting climate deniers and Keystone supporters. “President Obama is obviously very committed to this issue,” Steyer told me in an e-mail. “My goal is to support him in this in any way I can.”

Exactly how the president has weighed the decision on Keystone is a closely guarded secret in the White House, known only to a few senior advisors like Valerie Jarrett and Dan Pfeiffer. But it’s no surprise that I was told recently by members of the administration that the pipeline would, in fact, be rejected. “If the president is really serious about his legacy on climate change, he can’t have that and approve Keystone,” an Obama insider told me. “The only question now is the timing of the announcement.”

No doubt this feeds into the suspicions that conservatives and pro-energy moderates have of Obama on the pipeline question. However, Goodell provides a reason for some skepticism on his claim in the very next paragraph:

Inside the beltway, there was speculation that the President could announce a decision on the pipeline early this summer. But late in the afternoon on Good Friday – the darkest depths of the news cycle – the State Department released a statement that a decision on the pipeline would be once again delayed: “Agencies need additional time based on the uncertainty created by the ongoing litigation in the Nebraska Supreme Court which could ultimately affect the pipeline route.” The White House denies the move was in any way political. “I know there’s a great urge and has always been to make this about politics,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said later. “The issue here has to do with a court decision in Nebraska and its impact on the ability for the State [Department] process to continue for agencies to be able to comment.”

Let’s parse this Good Friday data dump a little more closely. Why would the White House need to get this out semi-under the radar using that technique? It wouldn’t be to sneak it past the conservatives and pro-energy moderates, and especially not past the Democrats hoping to run on the pipeline’s economic benefits. That contingent is already assuming the worst from all of these nonsense delays, based on little else other than sheer political pusillanimity.

The only benefit of kicking the decision can down the road again is to keep the anti-Keystone activists engaged and outraged a little longer. If Obama really has decided to reject the pipeline, what does he gain by waiting? The time to announce that is now in terms of the electoral prospects for the Landrieus, so that the issue can fade a little by November, or even better to have rejected it last year. In fact, the smartest time would have been right after the 2012 election, in the middle of the budget fights last year, which would have drained all of the vigor out of the issue by now.

The only real reason I can see for keeping this alive isn’t that Obama will reject Keystone; it’s that he’s more likely to acquiesce to bipartisan and union pressure to approve it. He wants to wait until after the midterms in order to keep the cash influx from Tom Steyer and other deep-pocket enviros in the mix, especially since Steyer has made it clear that he’ll go after Democrats in this cycle, starting with Landrieu. If Obama rejected it now or had already done so, that money stays in play — and so does the union cash, despite their support for Keystone. Only an approval risks that cash in the midterms.

The actual decision still could go either way, but if I was writing for Rolling Stone, I wouldn’t bet the bank on what administration sources are saying. I’d look more at what they’re doing.

Update: The White House disputes Goodell’s report, according to National Journal’s Jason Plautz:

The White House is pushing back against a Rolling Stone magazine story that cites two “high-level” Obama administration sources saying President Obama intends to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Nobody who knows POTUS’ thinking on Keystone is talking and nobody who is talking knows,” White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said on Twitter Wednesday evening. …

But Lehrich continued the pushback in a second tweet, arguing that the outcome of the ongoing review hasn’t been decided.

“National interest determination being evaluated at State Department in keeping with longstanding tradition. Will be made on merits,” he said, repeating the standard White House line and practice of referring questions to State.

 


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The delay is queer enough to make him suspect.

Murphy9 on April 24, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Tom Steyer and other deep-pocket enviros

Where exactly do uber-wealthy ecolibs live, in mud huts or right out on the plains under the stars?

Verba, you can help with this, Steyer is one of yours.

Bishop on April 24, 2014 at 2:25 PM

He’s going to reject it eventually. Mark my word. You can take it to the bank. Its as good as done.
The pipeline is toast. Count it. Slam dunk. It won’t happen.

jmtham156 on April 24, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Obama is waiting for Canada to make a deal with China, and render the pipeline moot. That way he can vote “present”, never coming out for, or against it.

tdarrington on April 24, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Where exactly do uber-wealthy ecolibs live, in mud huts or right out on the plains under the stars?

Verba, you can help with this, Steyer is one of yours.

Bishop on April 24, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Meh,the uber rich will always find and the best in accommodations and resources. In the event of dwindling resources it is us who are expected to live in mud huts or out on the plains under the stars….depending on our social caste, that is. I’m thinkin’ low level government bureaucrats get the mud huts.

hawkeye54 on April 24, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Do the enviros think that Canada will just leave the oil in the ground if the pipeline isn’t built? They will just find a more carbon- unfriendly way to move it to the refineries.

tdarrington on April 24, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Late at night, when he’s talking to the wall…he’s got the perfect angry rejection face on.

Come daytime and having to risk pi$$ing off too many people in real life, he has to settle for rejecting it by delaying it, or just trying to duck the issue.

He’s gotta fight the war on women, or something.

22044 on April 24, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Idi Hussein has cut a deal,
I give you Keystone, you give me amnesty for drug and terror cartels.
Until then, I enjoy Steyer’s moolah and keep the Saudis happy !

burrata on April 24, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Where exactly do uber-wealthy ecolibs live, in mud huts or right out on the plains under the stars?

They live in multi-million dollar estates and jet around in private planes. But it is ok, because they are raising awareness, and that offsets their lavish lifestyle.

tdarrington on April 24, 2014 at 2:34 PM

obama decided to reject keystone the minute it was proposed because it would go directly against one of his biggest donors and supporters….buffet, because buffet the bug f*cker runs the rail lines transporting the oil. Those rail lines would suffer a profit loss if they were bypassed by an oil line.

Why do people pretend any of this is new news? Is there some sort of virus wiping out the memory capacity of humans?

Diluculo on April 24, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Yes. He wants his libery dough from the hypocrite billionaire Steyer, who made his money from coal, and now pretends to ‘save the environment’.

One can NOT make this up.

Schadenfreude on April 24, 2014 at 2:35 PM

I quite certain that Obama decided to reject the pipeline the first day he heard of it.

Insanity on April 24, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Do the enviros think that Canada will just leave the oil in the ground if the pipeline isn’t built? They will just find a more carbon- unfriendly way to move it to the refineries.

tdarrington on April 24, 2014 at 2:33 PM

I’ve heard and read that in lieu of sending it to the USA through the pipeline, the majority of the oil is going to ports in Canada to be sold and shipped to China. What does come to the USA comes through the rail system owned by a rather smelly old communist that goes by the name buffet.

Diluculo on April 24, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Carter jumped on the bandwagon as well:

April 16, 2014, 07:36 am
Carter comes out against Keystone XL pipeline

By Rebecca Shabad
*****************

Former President Carter came out against the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Wednesday with a group of Nobel laureates.

“You stand on the brink of making a choice that will define your legacy on one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced – climate change,” Carter and the others wrote in an open letter to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Carter becomes the first former president who has publicly opposed the construction of the northern leg of the pipeline, which would run 1,179 miles from Canada into the United States.

Former President George W. Bush once called the proposal a “no-brainer,” The Washington Post notes.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/04/16/jimmy-carter-comes-out-against-keystone-xl-pipeline/?wprss=rss_politics&clsrd
(More….)
===========

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/203646-former-president-carter-comes-out-against-keystone-xl

canopfor on April 24, 2014 at 7:31 AM

canopfor on April 24, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Has Warren Buffett ordered Barky to do so yet?

viking01 on April 24, 2014 at 2:40 PM

one more nail in the Democratic 2014 coffin.

Mbiddle on April 24, 2014 at 2:41 PM

There are millions of fetuses to burn.

faraway on April 24, 2014 at 2:42 PM

The only pipes Obama will approve will have either crack or semen in them.

Rix on April 24, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Will be made on merits,” he said

And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge somewhere to sell you.

There are three votes that matter: The econuts, the big money contributors, and the unions. Possibly a fourth, public opinion at large if it becomes a big enough issue, which it won’t overshadow the economy as a whole or ObamaCare. The three votes aren’t precisely equal, private sector unions are losing influence, and Steyer is making a big deal about how he’s going to contribute. Obama has shown that he no qualms about stymying development on federal land he controls, so you do the math.

Fenris on April 24, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Anyone else get the feeling this thing might already be approved if GWB hadn’t called it a no-brainer?

I think Obama clings to this asinine position simply out of adolescent spite, much like the rest of his Presidency.

SeahawkBurrrton on April 24, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Do the enviros think …?

tdarrington on April 24, 2014 at 2:33 PM

You could have stopped there.

Fenris on April 24, 2014 at 2:50 PM

I quite certain that Obama decided to reject the pipeline the first day he heard of it.

Insanity on April 24, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Valerie’s Obama’s thought process :
Q :Who benefits from the Keystone pipeline ?
A : Americans
Pipeline Rejected.

Q : who loses with keystone pipeline ?
A : Saudis and Chinese
Pipeline Double Rejected

Q : how much money can we make by rejecting this pipeline
A : millions, for a long time
Pipeline rejected for ever

burrata on April 24, 2014 at 2:51 PM

communist that goes by the name buffet.

Diluculo on April 24, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Buffet is a fascist, not a commie. Fascists hide government control behind a facade of private ownership. Commies are, well, commies.

tdarrington on April 24, 2014 at 2:51 PM

No doubt this is part of his plan … To help china rise in power… As he just recently stated. And his other stated plan to decrease the power of the US and generally destroy this country. Looks like obama’s plan is all coming together… He’s got to give a shout out to the press who helped to make it all possible!

Caseoftheblues on April 24, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Do the enviros think …?

tdarrington on April 24, 2014 at 2:33 PM

You could have stopped there.

Fenris on April 24, 2014 at 2:50 PM

funny,

Did anyone ever think it would be approved? He really doesn’t care.

phatfawzi on April 24, 2014 at 2:56 PM

This mentality of not incentivizing domestic production of energy and using garbage science to do bad PR (Fracking anyone?)(which is by many estimates larger than any known energy reserves of such big energy producers as South America, China, Russia and the middle eastern fiefdoms) is not only criminally negligent but borderline treasonous.

terlizzi99 on April 24, 2014 at 2:56 PM

North Korea charges south, Iran nukes Tel Aviv, Russia invades eastern Europe. That will be a fun day. Yep, what harm can a simple community organizer do?

tdarrington on April 24, 2014 at 2:57 PM

This entire show with the pipeline has been nothing but smoke.

Obama NEVER WAS going to approve it. EVER.

Obama has been stringing out everyone over the pipeline, laughing his a$$ off at everyone in private I’m sure, while all along he KNEW he was never going to approve it.

People need to STOP giving Obama, the Dims and this Regime ANY benefit of the doubt. Here is what you should have learned the last 5 years:

They aren’t good people.
They aren’t about doing the “right thing”.
They don’t give a rip about the debt OR the deficit.
They will use any government hammer they can to persecute, intimidate, harass and squash ANYONE that dares to oppose them.

And the GOP will do nothing to stop them.

Meople on April 24, 2014 at 2:58 PM

The guy cares nothing about doing anything that is best for the country. Of course he’ll reject it. A new golf course in Nebraska would be approved faster!

COgirl on April 24, 2014 at 2:59 PM

And when Obama drafts every last red-blooded American willing to fight and die for his country and sends him overseas to fight WWIII, the Constitution will be ripe for the shredder.

tdarrington on April 24, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Whatever Obama decides to do, or has decided to do, there is one thing that is perfectly clear: The best interests of the nation don’t enter into his decision.

Everything Obama does is all about him and his personal and political agendas.The man who swore to serve the people and uphold the Constitution has done neither. He is the smallest man ever to hold the presidency, an absolute disgrace whose pettiness and incompetence should shame every single idiot who voted for him.

novaculus on April 24, 2014 at 3:03 PM

what Rolling Stone magazine hears from its sources,

A sad indictment of today’s media

blammm on April 24, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Oil flowing throught the Alaska pipeline is 1/4 of what it should be, the State is trying to fix that but can only make available state owned land. With States like ND an AK taking matters in their own hands they will have a higher GDP than the entire US.

Sven on April 24, 2014 at 3:03 PM

well is it built yet?
no?
then hasn’t he already, at least in practice, rejected it?

wise up, he will not approve it.

dmacleo on April 24, 2014 at 3:04 PM

The whole point of funding both of his elections was to keep America dependant on foreign Oil. He will drag XL out as long as he can. Those are the instructions he received from his Opec handlers.

esblowfeld on April 24, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Koch Industries is indeed one of the largest landowners in northern Alberta, holding leases to more than a million acres in the tar-sands region, and they stand to profit hugely if the pipeline is approved.

Complete and utter nonsense. Koch Industries will benefit regardless whether or not the pipeline is built.

Typical example of a lazy press.

itsspideyman on April 24, 2014 at 3:06 PM

they stand to profit hugely if the pipeline is approved.

Profit, huh? That sounds really scary.

faraway on April 24, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Oil flowing throught the Alaska pipeline is 1/4 of what it should be, the State is trying to fix that but can only make available state owned land. With States like ND an AK taking matters in their own hands they will have a higher GDP than the entire US.

Sven on April 24, 2014 at 3:03 PM

And at one time England nearly ruled the world, despite being derided as shopkeepers, and despite the likes of Spain going for the gold. It’s not that North Dakota is so wonderful; it’s that centrally planned economies are necessarily so inept.

Fenris on April 24, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Come on, does anyone really think that Obama is going to approve this? If he was going to approve it, it would have been done already. All he is doing is running out the clock.

Ryderz on April 24, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Of course he’s already made a decision not to approve it. There’s a $100 million bribe on the line.

Picaro on April 24, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Obama is planning on delaying the consequences of much of his presidency until after he leaves office.

Dasher on April 24, 2014 at 3:18 PM

The only legitimate reason to delay construction of the pipeline is to protect the property rights of the ranchers and homeowners who are being forced (via eminent domain) to sell their property, and I doubt this administration cares about property rights.

royal flush on April 24, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Of course he has.

The Keystone XL would help America. Obama does everything in his power to either hurt America or aide America’s enemies.

I don’t know if he was America’s first ghey president (although i strongly suspect so) but he is the first Anti-American president.

jukin3 on April 24, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Koch Industries is indeed one of the largest landowners in northern Alberta, holding leases to more than a million acres in the tar-sands region, and they stand to profit hugely if the pipeline is approved.

This has been debunked on several occasions. Evidently Rolling Stone ascribes to the philosophy of Joseph Goebbels – and repeating a lie often enough.

GarandFan on April 24, 2014 at 3:26 PM

It would be beneficial to the country, so he’s gotta be against it.

forest on April 24, 2014 at 3:28 PM

If the pipeline is built from a mile south of the Canadian border to Texas is the administration approval still required?

agmartin on April 24, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Obama? Dithering? For political reasons?

The hell you say!!

Common Sense Floridian on April 24, 2014 at 3:29 PM

When the unions start to cry you know it’s suspect.

HueMoss on April 24, 2014 at 3:31 PM

He won’t approve it. If you haven’t noticed, Obama’s been trying for five years to overload our economy. That means: destroy private sector jobs and pile on high paying public sector jobs. Obama’s motive is to completely break down capitalism and replace it with… You don’t have to read tea leaves to see this, just the headlines coupled with who his associates throughout his life have been. Congress needs to stop him. Remember Hillary’s filegate scandal? Think that times ten.

BarnicleBros on April 24, 2014 at 3:34 PM

What a silly notion. Everyone knows his typical “liberal” absolutes-that-hilariously-deny-even-the-possibility-of absolute-truth preclude him from rational thinking on the subject, just like with the “gay marriage” lie & fraud, a typical politician playing both ends against his middle where he’s the center of his myopic, infantile, navel-gazing universe of liberal fascism.

russedav on April 24, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Obama is waiting for Canada to make a deal with China, and render the pipeline moot. That way he can vote “present”, never coming out for, or against it.
tdarrington on April 24, 2014 at 2:31 PM

the type of leadership that Barky has exhibited in foreign policy

socalcon on April 24, 2014 at 3:43 PM

When the unions start to cry you know it’s suspect.
HueMoss on April 24, 2014 at 3:31 PM

better hurry to the store, I’m out of popcorn!

socalcon on April 24, 2014 at 3:45 PM

they’ll be built at the same time:

Keystone XL

Border fence to the south

socalcon on April 24, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Buffet is a fascist, not a commie. Fascists hide government control behind a facade of private ownership. Commies are, well, commies.

tdarrington on April 24, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Actually Fascism, Socialism and Communism are all about the same outcome, the control of many by a privileged few, who pretend to care about the many.

The end justifies the means, so what you call it it is immaterial.

Neitherleftorright on April 24, 2014 at 4:10 PM

The Kochs do lease oil sands in Alberta, but they are not connected to the Keystone project at all. Currently nothing is being produced on their leases and even if it eventually is, it is not part of the area which would be piped through Keystone. IF ANYTHING, Keystone would hurt their business by keeping retail prices lower.

So the report is an outright lie, based on the outright lies in a WaPo story by the wife of an activist which was planted by activists and/or Waxman and Whitehouse, as exposed by John Hinderaker of Power Line.

Know who else’ business would hurt by Keystone? Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway owns the rail company that transports much of the oil now.

Who else? Tom Steyer, the phony environmentalist billionaire whose money comes from foreign coal investments, which will go up and down with retail prices.

And, finally, never forget: if you read it in the Rolling Stone and it wasn’t by Hunter S. Thompson, it’s a lie.

Adjoran on April 24, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Koch Industries is indeed one of the largest landowners in northern Alberta, holding leases to more than a million acres in the tar-sands region, and they stand to profit hugely if the pipeline is approved.

This has been debunked on several occasions. Evidently Rolling Stone ascribes to the philosophy of Joseph Goebbels – and repeating a lie often enough.

GarandFan on April 24, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Washington Post Falls For Left-Wing Fraud, Embarrasses Itself

The Koch brothers are a significant LEASEHOLDER in the oil-sands business, and they do hold leases to around a million ACRES, but that’s only 3% of the total of all the leases.

From the linked article: “The astonishing thing about the IFG report is that it admitted that the Keystone Pipeline will damage Koch’s economic interests. Keystone would create competition for Alberta oil, raising the price of oil that Koch buys in the Midwest for its Pine Bend refinery. The original IFG report admitted that this would cost Koch $120 billion! Now, that is a stupid number based on a 50-year projection. But still, the basic point is correct: the Keystone Pipeline would hurt Koch Enterprises economically, which is why Koch has never come out in favor of the pipeline or lobbied on its behalf.”

slickwillie2001 on April 24, 2014 at 4:28 PM

…he’s getting paid…not to approve it!

KOOLAID2 on April 24, 2014 at 5:33 PM

What’s interesting is that I was listening to American Family Radio last night and heard a well informed guest say that it has been discovered that out of California, there lives a Eco-lib who told Obama that if he didn’t Approve it, he would pay $100 million to… and it gets fuzzy, the DNC or Obama himself… I couldn’t really understand. SOOOO what we have here is a president who doesn’t give a crap about the country and only interested in his own personal gain.

CynicalOptimist on April 24, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Koch Industries is indeed one of the largest landowners in northern Alberta, holding leases to more than a million acres in the tar-sands region, and they stand to profit hugely if the pipeline is approved.

SpideyMan is right. Even if the Koch brothers own lots of the tar-sands land in Alberta, they make money even if the pipeline ISN’T built, because the oil is being shipped to the US by rail. Those who profit from the pipeline NOT being built are the freight railroads (some of them owned by Warren Buffett), who would lose business to the pipeline.

From an environmental point of view, it is much safer to ship 800,000 barrels per day of oil through a single pipeline than in 1,600 railcars per day, with all the possibilities of derailments due to poor track maintenance and human error. Add to that the diesel fuel burned by locomotives hauling railcars full of oil south, and hauling empty tank cars back north, and the overall “carbon footprint” would be less if the pipeline WAS built than it is now.

Steve Z on April 24, 2014 at 6:55 PM

All the will-he-or-won’t-he media thrashing has been amusing, but the man is completely anti-fossil fuel and made that clear since before he won in 2008. He pays lipservice to nat gas and tolerates it as a “bridge fuel” only; he sees any barrier to the production of “dirty” energy — anywhere — as an incentive for renewable investment and therefore a good and necessary thing. He buys into the most hyperbolic climate change/extreme weather claims completely.

Of course he’s going to deny Keystone XL; Kill it completely before his term ends. Anyone who’s ever thought otherwise has not been paying attention.

MaxBC on April 24, 2014 at 7:09 PM

Just a simple question; where is it written that only one person has the ability to approve or disapprove of this project? What do we need a Congress for if they can’t do something about this one man rule bs?

Pardonme on April 24, 2014 at 10:04 PM

The timing is not in question.

He’ll announce his rejection of it immediately after the election, this giving Dems the cover of saying they will promote the pipeline during the campaign and also then, regretfully, announcing there is nothing they can do – after being re-elected.

Hucklebuck on April 25, 2014 at 11:13 AM