To the surprise of everyone outside the White House, Obama mentioned the pipeline in his speech. It was a politically savvy move for three reasons: 1) He called out the elephant in the room and thus avoided both criticism from groups like the Sierra Club and the subsequent media coverage of his omission; 2) He took ownership of the issue, showing everyone on every side of the fight he is personally involved; and 3) He shifted the debate over the pipeline from one of economics to one about the effects on climate change.I agree with #2 and #3 — which is precisely why I think the speech makes it less likely he will approve Keystone. Obama owns KXL and he’s said the deciding factor is climate, not economics. As a new Scientific American article sums things up, “If built, the Keystone XL pipeline will be a spigot that speeds tar sands production, pushing the planet toward its emissions limit.”
And folks who have been around Washington politics a lot longer than I have think it would be very un-savvy to spend so much time laying out a strong moral case for climate action and then bringing up Keystone IF the president is planning on approving it. He would have been far better off not talking about Keystone at all in that case. As it is now, he will rightfully be called an extreme hypocrite if he ultimately opens the spigot to the dirty tar sands.CTV was reporting that Peter Kent may be moving on and therefore would be out as Environment Minister. Not sure there's much a new Canadian minister might do to sway the Obama administration but Keystone has got to be figuring into Harper's thinking. Is Rempel, currently the Parliamentary Secretary to Kent, the one?
There’s no question Obama could approve Keystone, but I believe the smart money has shifted from betting he will to betting he won’t.
Whoever it is, they're also going to have to deal with this burgeoning - and very warranted - focus on petcoke. This oil sands byproduct gained greater visibility recently given the Koch brothers' piling of it on the Detroit waterfront to the discomfort of Windsorites looking on from across the river.
We, for the most part, won't burn it for fuel due to its high emissions levels and the "Environmental Protection Agency will no longer allow any new licenses permitting the burning of petroleum coke in the United States." So it is largely being shipped overseas to China and Mexico, nations that don't care much about emissions levels. Shouldn't we Canadians be concerned about that? Particularly if Keystone were to be approved, with the amounts of petcoke that will be produced.
Over to you, next Harper environment minister.