The Showdown Over Keystone

Obama has promised to veto the Keystone bill making its way through Congress. Bill McKibben savors this victory:

It’s not as if we’re winning the climate fight – the planet’s temperature keeps rising. But we’re not losing it the way we used to. If the president sticks to his word, this will be the first major fossil-fuel project ever shut down because of its effect on the climate. The IOU that the president and the Chinese wrote in November about future carbon emissions is a nice piece of paper that hopefully will do great things in the decades ahead – but the Keystone denial is cash on the barrelhead. It’s actually keeping some carbon in the ground.

But Charles Pierce isn’t counting his chickens yet:

The White House veto threat is not a categorical threat to the pipeline’s construction. The president is saying that the bill in question is premature, that it is short-cutting established procedure that already is underway, and that it is an improper federal infringement upon the function of the state judiciary of Nebraska. The president has not eliminated any of his options.

Josh Green sees Keystone as relatively unimportant:

Keystone has attained tremendous symbolic importance for both Democrats and Republicans. But this is the opposite of how it should be — the political fight has become completely divorced from reality. The pipeline’s actual importance to oil markets, the economy and the environment has steadily diminished. Whoever wins, the “victory” will be pointless and hollow.

First Read also wonders why Keystone should be the first order of business:

Republicans now have complete control of Congress, and the first thing they want to get done is … the Keystone XL pipeline? That’s the statement they want to make after their midterm victories? “The president’s going to see the Keystone XL Pipeline on his desk, and it is going to be a bellwether decision by the president,” Sen. John Barrasso said on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday. We get the politics of Keystone; we’ve been covering the issue for years now. But it’s such small ball — and it’s even smaller now in the midst of the lowest gas prices in years and 200,000-plus jobs being created each month. We’ve got to ask: All that money spent on the midterms, all that jockeying for control of the Senate, and first real statement from the new GOP majority is Keystone? It’s small-ball politics, whether you’re on the right, left or in the middle. It’s certainly no Contract with America.