For a while, it seemed like environmental groups were fighting a losing battle against the Keystone XL. As you're likely aware, the behemoth of a pipeline is proposed to run 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas. The State Department released a report signaling its approval, stating that the project wouldn't be environmentally damaging.
A few thousand people who felt otherwise staged a weeks-long protest at the White House, and over 1,200 people were arrested. Indigenous groups spoke out against it. The government of Nebraska considered banning the pipeline. At a Congressional hearing, farmers broke down in tears over the prospect of an oil pipeline destroying their homeland. And then, revelations surfaced that an ex-staffer for Hilary Clinton was one of the chief lobbyists for TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL.
From then on out, more evidence of cozy ties between the State Department and TransCanada's lobbying corps emerged, sending tons of bad publicity towards the project. To top it all off, conservationist golden boy Robert Redford recorded a widely-circulated video plea for the president to 'Just Say No'.
Needless to say, the president, who has been roundly criticized of late for ignoring green groups, now has a much tougher decision on his hands. And he admitted as much in a recent interview, in which he affirmed that he'll be the one making the final decision whether to approve the pipeline, not the State Dept. Watch:
This statement, in which Obama emphasized many of the negative impacts -- the dangers posed to underground water aquifers and the farming industry -- struck some as evidence that the president planned on delaying or denying the pipeline. To my eyes, it's still to early to tell. Obama might have just been using the opportunity to reassure Nebraska voters (the interview is a newsman from the state), who oppose the pipeline, that he's taking the tough decision seriously. He may just push the decision back another year, though this too would be a victory of sorts for the pipeline's opponents.
That said, this should be seen as a positive development: Due largely to the diligent work of environmentalists and campaigners, Obama can no longer quietly approve the project to appease oil industry interests. And he may yet do the right thing altogether, and diffuse this dirty 'carbon bomb' of a pipeline. I'm curious to get your read -- what do you think this clip reveals?