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House Majority Leader John Boehner yesterday called on President Obama to find common ground with Republicans to resolve the fiscal cliff.As we’ve discussed, “resolving the fiscal cliff” is not necessarily the crisis everyone is making it out to be, but will still entail some teeth-pulling in deciding revenue-raising measures will survive after Jan. 1.
Meanwhile, there is another seemingly partisan policy decision everyone is nevertheless convinced will actually prove painless: approving Transcanada’s application for its Keystone XL pipeline across the Canadian border.
Brief background: the Keystone would transport approximately 1.3 million barrels of oil per day from Canada to refineries in the Gulf. Industry groups say its construction would create thousands of jobs, while environmentalists fear the project’s impact on local ecology. There remains debate about what effect this would have on gasoline prices.
In a conference call with analysts yesterday, the CEO of pipeline developer Enbridge said he is convinced approval by the administration is imminent.
“If you look at fundamentals for crude oil, we’re seeing a huge expansion in volume,” Bloomberg reported Al Monaco as saying. “It’s in everybody’s interest to get new infrastructure built. I think that’s been the Obama administration’s view.”
There have indeed been hints the administration was ready to move ahead on the project. As the New York Times’ Dan Frosch wrote last month:
…after saying TransCanada must reroute the project around environmentally delicate areas in Nebraska, President Obama encouraged the company to submit a fresh application to the State Department.
And he embraced the less controversial southern portion of Keystone XL, which received final permits from the Army Corps of Engineers this summer.
In June, we emailed Argus Research oil sector guru Phil Weiss to see whether approval could end up being an October surprise. He agreed it was a possibility that would depend on oil prices.
If prices increase, the economic pressures rise and it seems more possible that there could be an “October Surprise.” So much could also depend on where things are in the polls and what such an announcement might mean to chances for re-election.
Crude prices ended up flatlining after labour Day, so the question ended up moot.
But with the election over, many are saying it will go ahead anyway.
Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper also remarked yesterday he was “optimistic” it would get the nod.
Bloomberg also quoted Harper’s natural resources minister as saying he was even more confident about the issue.
Keystone XL will be approved by the U.S. because it is in U.S. national interests in terms of national security, jobs and economic growth, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said yesterday.
“I don’t know exactly why he postponed it but the point is right now we’re not in the middle of an election campaign and it will be decided by the administration on its merits,” Oliver told reporters in Ottawa.
The pipeline was the very first item contained in American Petroleum Institute Jack Gerard’s post-election statement.
“Right off the bat, the president can approve the Keystone Pipeline and put thousands of Americans to work immediately. ”
Still, resistance among environmentalists remains intense: last month, actress Daryl Hannah got arrested again for protesting the pipeline.
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