The official rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from the President has some interesting framing:
“As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment,” said Obama. “As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.”
Obama also sought to emphasize that he did not see the rejection as a definitive statement on the pipleine project itself. “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,” he 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.”
So there’s a lot of reassurances there that the oil will keep flowing, just not out of this particular pipeline. And indeed, the Obama Administration has presided over record growth in oil production, which has predictably had no discernible effect on oil prices.
A lot of this is blame-gaming, with Obama trying to blame Republicans for the arbitrary deadline before Republicans blame him for destroying jobs in the energy sector. But considering that TransCanada, under the terms of this rejection, can re-apply for a pipeline permit, the nature of this rejection does suggest that a future plan could get approval down the road, given the proper amount of time for environmental review and routing.
Whether TransCanada goes that route isn’t yet clear. I will say one thing in praise of the coalition that stopped this pipeline for now, however. Like SOPA and PIPA, most observers believed that this pipeline was a done deal not very long ago. The activists worked on this, and got the President to delay a review until after the election. At that point, Republicans wanted to make it a political issue – more than they wanted a pipeline – so they forced the 60-day timeline that led to today’s rejection. But the activists did play this well, forcing the confrontation that blew up the deal. So good for them.
UPDATE: Full statement here.