Politico is Skeptical that Obama Will Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline


This time from Politico:

Some of the country’s wealthiest Democratic donors — including billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer — are spending millions of dollars to defeat the pipeline.

Steyer, who has hosted both Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at his San Francisco home for fundraisers, has made killing Keystone one of his top priorities while also ingratiating himself with the Democratic Party establishment. He is planning to spend $100 million or more to make climate change a major issue in this year’s elections.

Others have followed suit. More than 150 wealthy Democratic donors and Obama supporters — including tech guru Vinod Khosla, CREDO Mobile co-founder Michael Kieschnick and Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founder of the Esprit clothing company — wrote to the president last year pressuring him to reject the project.

Democrats are relying on many of these donors for cash heading into the midterm elections, even as vulnerable Democratic moderates like Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and Alaska Sen. Mark Begich openly support the pipeline. (Begich told POLITICO recently that rejecting Keystone would be a “foolish mistake.”)

There appears to be big money behind some of the Keystone XL opposition, though we have also reported that unions were spending significant sums of money in the midterm elections and support the pipeline.

Politico continues, noting that there is significant internal opposition on Obama’s team:

Obama doesn’t have to look beyond his senior staff to find Keystone opponents.

Podesta, who joined the administration as an adviser earlier this year and focuses much of his attention on climate change, was highly critical of the pipeline during his time heading the liberal Center for American Progress. He has recused himself from dealing with Keystone — but his opposition is no mystery to the president.

Valerie Jarrett and Dan Pfeiffer have also privately said they oppose the pipeline, according to Bloomberg.

But others in Obama’s web favor the project. Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently said he supports the pipeline, as did Marcia McNutt, who formerly headed the U.S. Geological Survey under Obama. One of his past national security advisers, Gen. James Jones, told Congress that approving Keystone is especially crucial for boosting energy security in light of rising tensions with Russia.

Though as you can see, there is some internal support for the project, so who really knows.

While there appears to be some strong reasons to be skeptical that Obama will approve the project, this article was framed as pushing back against the notion that Keystone was a no-brainer that Obama would eventually approve:

For years, the conventional wisdom in Washington has been that President Barack Obama will approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline — reasoning that the political upside of embracing the North American energy boom will outweigh outrage from environmentalists.

That may have been true two or three years ago, but given how long the administration has delayed a decision on this thing, it’s hard to see how anyone would still think the approval is guaranteed, or even better than 50-50.


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