I am very glad Obama decided to fight this battle....because it is a battle he will lose with the American People...
Keystone XL pipeline decision rallies left and right
For liberals, Keystone is another reminder that this W.H. isn’t abandoning the left.
By DAN BERMAN | 1/18/12 3:48 PM EST
President Barack Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline might prove to be one of his most popular decisions in recent memory: both sides get exactly the fight they want.
For liberals, it’s another reminder that this White House isn’t abandoning the left.
For Republicans on the Hill and on the campaign trail, the proposed 1,700-mile oil pipeline is an issue from heaven: A Democratic president siding with environmentalists and his base against a project that could create thousands of jobs. And did we mention gas prices are on the rise?
"He's going to get beat up the whole year on this,” said Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on environment and the economy.
Shortly after news of the decision went viral Wednesday, Speaker John Boehner and other GOP congressmen met in the Capitol to begin mapping out their response plan. And their press secretaries got busy sending out statements taking, um, liberal shots at the White House.
“President Obama is about to destroy tens of thousands of American jobs and sell American energy security to the Chinese,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner. “The president won’t stand up to his political base even to create American jobs. This is not the end of this fight.”
GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney said, “If Americans want to understand why unemployment in the United States has been stuck above 8 percent for the longest stretch since the Great Depression, decisions like this one are the place to begin.”
Keystone XL became a household issue in D.C. during the payroll and budget fights late last year. That’s when Republicans forced Obama to speed up his timetable and make a call now, rather than in 2013.
Now that Obama has made his decision — which in effect invites TransCanada to rework the route through Nebraska and try again — the Republicans are ready for bear. The payroll tax extension coming up next month is an obvious target. Some in Congress are also suggesting simply passing a law to override Obama or give control to the quasi-independent FERC, which Republicans view as friendlier to industry.
Already, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been asked to testify, possibly as early as next week.
“I think Republicans are going to try to make this a live issue all year long and in a lot of ways we'll welcome that," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.
“Basically, the Republicans are acting as though Keystone is going to bring down the unemployment rate by 5 percent," said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.). "So it's going to be a political battle that will get played out on the campaign trail and legislatively here in Congress. Obviously, the White House took that into account and is prepared to engage in that battle."
Republican leaders would welcome it too.
“Do they want this to be a continued story all year? I think we win,” said Shimkus.
Keystone became a national issue in part because of the efforts of environmentalists like Bill McKibben, who last year led protests at the White House, followed by threats from campaign bundlers such as Esprit co-founder Susie Tompkins Buell that they would stay away from the president’s reelection campaign.
Wednesday’s decision is a clear sign to the liberals that the president needs their support. It’s also a major rallying cry for the left, along with his recent recess appointments of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three nominees to the National Labor Relations Board.
“The knock on Barack Obama from many quarters has been that he's too conciliatory,” McKibben said in a statement Wednesday. “But here, in the face of a naked political threat from Big Oil to exact 'huge political consequences,' he's stood up strong.”
In his statement Wednesday afternoon, Obama placed the blame for rejecting the pipeline squarely on House Republicans for inserting a 60-day deadline into the payroll tax legislation at the end of last year.
“This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people,” Obama said. “I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil.”
The White House also rejects the idea there’s any been any politics involved on the administration’s side, either now or last year, when the State Department attempted to punt any decision on Keystone until 2013.
“On issues like this there is a nonpolitical, professional process that has been in place, was established long before this administration came to office, and is the proper way to conduct the reviews for applications for permits for these kinds of transnational projects,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney at his news briefing early Wednesday afternoon.
Darren Samuelsohn and Bob King contributed to this report.