President Barack Obama on 6th November determined that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline is not in the national interest and therefore denied the cross-border permit necessary for the pipeline to be built. The President’s shameful decision concludes the administration’s shameful six year delay in making a decision.
My view for a long time has been that the Obama Administration’s strategy was to delay the decision until TransCanada Corporation gave up. That strategy came up against TransCanada’s request on 2nd November to suspend the State Department’s consideration of its application until 2017—that is, until President Obama has left office and a new President could approve the permit.
One day later, White House press secretary Josh Earnest responded to TransCanada’s request by saying, “Our expectation at this point … is that the President will make a decision by the end of his administration on the Keystone pipeline.” Instead of by the end of next year, the President made a decision by the end of this week. My guess is that he did so now because COP-21 begins in Paris at the end of the month and he hopes to build support from environmental pressure groups for what is almost certainly going to be a modest and uninspiring climate treaty.
Billionaire Democratic Party donor Tom Steyer and 350.org founder Bill McKibben made Keystone into a decisive moment in the climate debate. McKibben repeatedly said (quoting James Hansen, former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) that building Keystone would be “game over for the climate.” Democrats are counting on Steyer to spend more in the 2016 elections than the $75 million he reportedly spent in the 2014 elections.