Senate Democrats Reject Keystone XL Pipeline Again At Obama’s Behest
posted at 10:33 am on March 9, 2012 by Bruce McQuain
Remember the official line from the White House when Obama rejected the pipeline in January?
Obama rejected a cross-border permit for the Keystone pipeline in January.
He said the decision was not based on the merits of the project, but instead in response to a 60-day permit decision deadline that Republicans demanded in a December payroll tax cut bill. Obama said the deadline would short-circuit review.
Of course the State Department had previously favorably reviewed the pipeline and recommended its approval (08/29/11)
David L. Goldwyn, who until earlier this year had served as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, said in an interview aired over the weekend that Clinton would likely approve plans for a contentious pipeline to deliver oil from Canada’s tar sands to the Texas Gulf Coast.
“I think that balancing jobs, energy security — a country which has increased production potentially the size of Libya — I think the case for a pipeline is overwhelming, and she will approve it,” Goldwyn said, speaking to Platts Energy Week, an energy-themed television program.
On Friday, the State Department issued its final Environmental Impact Statement, concluding that the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline would have “no significant impact” on the environment and recommending that the project move forward, despite warnings from environmental groups that, among other things, the project would help accelerate the warming of the planet.
So, in reality, other than petulance, politics and an agenda, Obama had no real reason to not approve the pipeline. The review had been completed. In fact it seems clear, given his disapproval, that the process was irrelevant to him in reality and the Republicans were just the latest excuse not to approve the deal.
Republican Senator Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) introduced an amendment to the transportation bill concerning the pipeline:
The amendment, unlike previous GOP efforts to simply create a deadline for an administration permit decision, would have bypassed the administration and approved construction, although the legislation would still require Obama’s signature.
Of course Obama didn’t want to be seen vetoing something which polls have repeatedly said the vast majority of the nation is for. So he actively lobbied against the passage of the amendment.
Obama lobbied wavering Senate Democrats before yesterday’s vote. He urged them to reject an amendment to legislation funding transportation projects that would have overturned his administration’s decision to deny a permit for the pipeline until an alternative route was proposed to bypass an environmentally sensitive area in Nebraska.
But, as reported previously, many pipelines already criss-cross the Oglala aquifer in Nebraska with no problem. Additionally, the governor of Nebraska made it clear that it wasn’t necessary to reject the pipeline – there were some pretty easy workarounds.
So here, in the midst of rising gas prices and high unemployment, a politician is presented with a positive way to impact both and declines it based purely on ideology vs. what’s best for the nation.
Unfortunately he has allies in the Senate – enough to defeat the amendment that would have either allowed the pipeline to be built or forced Obama to veto it.
The vote was 56-42 with 11 Democrats defecting. Most of those, as you might imagine, are from states in which oil production is important.
And, as usual, opponents were scraping the bottom of the barrel for reasons not to vote for the amendment:
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and other Democrats opposed to the project argued oil would end up going to Asia, and that the pipeline could even raise costs in the U.S.
As well as the usual nonsense:
“Once again Republicans are trying to play politics with a pipeline project whose route has yet to be proposed, and despite the claims that this would somehow solve the pain families are feeling at the pump today, according to the company it would take years before it transported a drop of oil,” [White House spokesman Clark] Stevens said in a statement.
But history gives lie to Stevens claim. Remember when President Bush lifted the moratorium on oil and gas exploration on the East and West Outer Continental Shelf in 2008. Not a single well had been drilled when it was announced and the price of oil took a significant drop:
The politics at issue here are those which are detrimental to the nation.
And those would be the ideologically driven politics being played by the White House, and none other.