Activists Protest Outside Facebook Shareholder's Meeting

Ryan Lizza has written a very balanced, comprehensive article for the New Yorker about the politics behind the Keystone XL pipeline debate. It suggests that one driving force behind a loss of certainty about the pipeline’s approval has more to do with an ineffective Congress than with actual environmental concerns.

The piece offers at least some indication that President Obama doesn’t share many environmentalists’ objections to Keystone XL. But the intractability of Congress over prominent issues such as gun control and immigration reform has forced him to focus on climate change, one of few issues on which he can make any headway without Congressional cooperation. And the Keystone XL pipeline, irrespective of its actual climate impact, has become a powerful symbol of willingness – or unwillingness – to act on climate change.

“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 skeptical of the environmentalists’ claims about Keystone. ‘He thinks the greenhouse-gas numbers have been inflated by opponents,’ Ambassador Doer [Canadian Ambassador to the US] 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 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.”

The full article is worth a read (link above).