We're Waiting

05.10.13

When Will Obama Decide on Keystone XL?

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images ()

The White House still hasn't announced a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, and the New York Times offers a pretty fascinating hypothesis for why it is taking so long:

[C]ould some kind of deal be in the offing — a major climate policy announcement on, for example, power plant regulation or renewable energy incentives — to ease the sting of the pipeline approval?

White House and State Department officials insist a pipeline ruling will be made strictly on whether the 1,700-mile project is in the economic, environmental and security interests of the United States. They say the pipeline is not a fundamental piece of the nation’s climate policy nor is it a political bargaining chip to trade for other measures.

Administration officials have described the pipeline as a relatively simple permit application on an infrastructure project to transport oil from Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

But to many environmentalists, including some of the president’s most active campaign supporters, the issue has huge symbolic and political importance.

For that reason, the approaching decision — expected some time this summer or early fall — offers the president a rare opportunity to set the parameters of the energy debate for the rest of his term and cement his legacy as the first president to seriously address climate change.

On that note, read Jonathan Chait in New York magazine on Obama's second term plans for combating climate change.