The U.S. Senate is expected to vote today on a bill that would short-circuit the safety and environmental review for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, overruling sound science with polluter politics. The Boston Globe editorial board has a three-part plan to approve Keystone XL:
- Obama approves Keystone XL
- yadda yadda other emissions cuts hand-waving something something
- Climate crisis solved!
Here’s today’s editorial:
So a veto now shouldn’t mean that Obama ought to reject Keystone categorically — just that approval ought to be predicated on bigger concessions by Congress on another part of the president’s environmental agenda. The goal should be to reduce emissions and boost energy efficiency, rather than block pipelines per se. […]
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce new rules on ozone standards and toxic coal ash as well as restrict greenhouse gas emissions from future power plants. There is little Congress can do to stop these regulations, but simply dropping threats to undercut them through the appropriations process — as Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has vowed — could be key. Indeed, securing a promise of inaction from legislators determined to hobble the EPA could alone be a victory worth allowing Keystone XL to go forward.
The House has already voted nine times to send the pipeline project to the president’s desk for approval. The Senate, once it’s under Republican control come January, will surely pass another measure to that effect. The president would be wisest to bide his time. If the new GOP Congress wants Keystone so badly, it should be willing to negotiate a comprehensive climate deal.
This is delusional for two reasons. First, we have no hope of slowing global warming – never mind eventually achieving a stable climate – if we keep saying yes to every polluting project asked for by big polluters. Enivornmental Protection Agency carbon pollution limits and fuel efficiency standards are a good start – the equivalent of a 600-pound man going for a 20-minute walk every day. But building Keystone XL would be like rewarding ourselves for that walk with a large pepperoni pizza. Coming off the hottest October on record globally and on pace for the hottest year on record, only a carbon crash diet can avert catastrophe.
Second, it’s fantasy to think today’s Republican extremists have any interest in compromise or good policy. As Jay Rosen has pointed out, this is pure media sentimentalism. The GOP refused to negotiate on a climate and energy bill in 2010 and since then has only grown more hostile to policy solutions. “Republicans were not elected to govern,” declared Rush Limbaugh. “The desire to prove Republicans can govern also makes them hostage to their opponents in the Democratic party and the media,” echoed the National Review.
President Obama is right, Keystone is a Canadian export pipeline, plain and simple. Oil companies want to use our country to transport Canadian oil, and now they’re trying to ram this export strategy through Congress.
When the Senate debates this pipeline on Tuesday, I will back up the president on this point and argue against using America as a middleman for foreign countries’ energy interests.
Elected officials say they always get complaint calls, but rarely hear thanks. If you have a minute, please call or email Sen. Markey and Sen. Warren to thank them for standing strong against Keystone XL.