A lot of people, including us, thought President Barack Obama would by now have approved the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The thinking went that the Canadian oil sands — out of which the pipeline would run — were going to be developed anyway, and the project had the potential to be used as a political bargaining chip by the administration.
But a new mega-take in the New Yorker from Ryan Lizza shows that at this point, Obama’s feelings on the project are anyone’s guess.
At first, Lizza offers more evidence for those who believed approval was inevitable:
“Accounts of Obama’s private views about his second-term climate agenda suggest that he sees the E.P.A. rules as his real legacy on the issue, and that he’s sceptical of the environmentalists’ claims about Keystone. ‘He thinks the greenhouse-gas numbers have been inflated by opponents,’ [Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Gary Doer] said. Journalists who discussed the issue with Obama earlier this year in off-the-record sessions said that he told them the same thing.
But then, Lizza details that disapproval and Obama’s other environmental goals have gained the upper hand as the President’s other policy initiatives, like immigration, have stalled.
“[…] the deterioration of Obama’s legislative agenda and the growing strength of the movement against the pipeline have convinced some that the odds are now higher that Obama will deny the pipeline permit. ‘I think it’s a 50-50 proposition,’ [John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff and an adviser to the Obama White House] said.”
Technically, the decision is not even the President’s to make. The State Department must approve all border projects, and the administration has previously said it would not preempt the State’s oversight.
And a State official recently told Fox News that its final environmental impact assessment won’t be finished until 2014.
So it looks like we’re just going to have to keep waiting.
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