Saturday, November 7, 2015

Obama Rejects Keystone Pipeline

Obama's political handlers decided that yesterday was the perfect time to finally release his long-made decision about the Keystone Pipeline. I wonder, did they coordinate with Hillary's campaign, or not? I agree with the decision but I wish people would stop calling it "one of the biggest environmental issues of his presidency." It has become a big political issue, I suppose because it is concrete and easy to understand, but compared to his power plant regulations or fuel standards for cars it is environmental trivia. I expect that Republican presidential candidates will try to make a big deal out of this, and at least this is a real question and not a contrived bit of outrage like Benghazi. But anyone surprised by this decision has had his head in the tar sands.


JEL said...

What no US commentator (including the author of this blog) seems to grasp is that the real issue about the pipeline (which, so far as I can tell, is not of environmental significance, but only of symbolic significance) is that the pipeline was desired by a neighbor and close ally, Canada, which has consistently helped the US even in wars of the US's choosing (as in Syria now). It is unimaginable that any 20th century US administration would have treated the Canadians with such open contempt purely to make a domestic political point, and this decision serves to fire the ever-increasing anti-Americanism that Canadians feel on the basis of controversies (like the soft wood lumber dispute) than practically no American has ever heard of, but about which Canadians feel keenly that they have not been treated fairly. During my adulthood the way Canadians talk about the US has changed profoundly from rueful friendliness to frequent expressions of loathing and contempt (and the Obama administration has, if anything, whatever the hopes at its inception, been regarded worse than the administrations before it). This will hardly help.

John said...

I bet the new Canadian government feels very different about this pipeline than the old one did.

G. Verloren said...

I agree that Trudeau the Younger is likely of a very different mind than the Harper administration was, and I'm curious to see what he makes of all this.

Shadow said...

Trudeau supports it, doesn't he? And he has expressed disappointment over Obama's decision. Regardless, I think Canadians would take Obama's decision as a slap in the face, especially since they requested a suspension. The request was political no doubt, but to deny the delay/suspension among good allies is also political. The Pipeline, more than anything became a symbol. With this decision one side has won the symbol. But what has been lost?

John said...

The Times:

Officially, Canada is disappointed. But the Obama administration’s decision on Friday to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have linked Alberta’s oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico, also appeared to bring Canada’s new Liberal government a sense of relief.

The Conservative government that the Liberals, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, replaced this week had made the approval of Keystone XL its top foreign policy priority, even though Canadians were divided over its importance.

During the campaign, Mr. Trudeau said he would push for Keystone XL. But it was a promise made with little obvious enthusiasm, probably an attempt, many observers said, to avoid rekindling Albertans’ memories of a controversial energy program introduced by his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, during his time as prime minister.

The president said the Keystone XL oil pipeline would not be built, ending a seven-year review of the project, a subject of climate policy debate.

Now, Mr. Trudeau no longer has to keep his pipeline pledge, and he will be free to pursue a campaign promise he is enthusiastic about: improving Canada’s record on greenhouse gas emissions.

John said...

So I see that the issue is a complicated one in Canadian politics, as one might expect in a country that has a good environmental records but is also a major energy exporter.

It's certainly a fair comment that Americans generally pay no attention to what our allies want, and it is interesting that this side of the Keystone Pipeline question has gotten pretty much no attention in the American press. That a news junkie like me didn't even know that Trudeau had promised to build the pipeline says something, too.

Maybe I should add some Canadian newspapers to my news feed.