It’s a decision President Barack Obama put off during the 2012 campaign, but now that he’s won a second term, his next move on a proposed oil pipeline between the U.S. and Canada may signal how he will deal with climate and energy issues in the four years ahead.

Obama is facing increasing pressure to determine the fate of the $7 billion Keystone XL project, with environmental activists and oil producers each holding out hope that the president, freed from the political constraints of re-election, will side with them on this and countless other related issues down the road.

On its surface, it’s a choice between the promise of jobs and economic growth and environmental concerns. But it’s also become a proxy for a broader fight over American energy consumption and climate change, amplified by Superstorm Sandy and the conclusion of an election that was all about the economy.