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The payroll tax cut extension deal, approved by the Senate 89-10 this morning, is being widely reported as including a requirement that the State Department act on the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days. Talking Points Memo labels it a GOP win on Keystone, and Politico reports: Greens call out Keystone XL deal. However, David Dayen at Firedoglake - a site not normally known for reflexive defense of Democrats' negotiating tactics - sees it differently: Republicans demand to kill the Keystone XL pipeline.

A careful analysis shows that the in all likelihood the deal will simply allow both sides to generate hot-button quotes come election 2012. At worst, it's no more than Kabuki theater. At best, it gives President Obama a chance to affirm his commitment to environmental and climate issues, and reject the pipeline completely.

1. The deal: Congress can require the State Department to make a decision, but can't tell the State Department what to decide.

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) is taking credit for a bill he introduced, S.1932, to be incorporated into the deal. The bill, as currently written, requires the State Department to make a decision on the pipeline within 60 days. The bill does not require the State Department to make any particular decision, yes or no, only that it make a decision within 60 days.

The State Department has already said that no arbitrary deadlines can be set for its decision:

"Should Congress impose an arbitrary deadline for the permit decision ... the Department would be unable to make a determination to issue a permit for this project," the Department said in a statement.
The State Department's official statement reiterates an "early 2013" timetable.

Got that? The Senate deal requires the State Department to make a fast decision, and the State Department has already said that its fast decision would be a "no." Tweets from @dpfeiffer44 emphasize:

How will the GOP explain to their members that their bill doesnt force the President to approve Keystone, it essentially kills it?

Lots of incorrect reporting out there today that says the House Payroll bill forces approval of the Keystone pipeline, that is not true

he House bill simply shortens the review process in a way that virtually guarantees that the pipeline will NOT be approved

Republicans presumably know all this - the State Department promised on December 12 to say no to an expedited decision on Keystone XL, and the payroll tax deal was made on December 16. So why go through this? Either they have faith in the caveats (discussed below), or they want the ability to score political points with voters more than they want the pipeline itself. In other words, they're likely playing Kabuki theater, manufacturing an excuse to scream about the "job killing" Obama administration.


2. The caveats

First, Obama or the State Department could simply about-face: declare that enough information has been collected and approve the pipeline within 60 days. It wouldn't be the first time the President has overruled his own agency's recommendations on an environmental issue.

For what it's worth, Ed Henry senses that the White House has already sustained whatever damage it would sustain from rejecting the pipeline, and is poised to turn it down:

sense i'm getting from WH -- & i stress just a sense -- POTUS leaning toward BLOCKING Keystone cause insiders think he already took hit

what i mean: WH thinks POTUS already took hit for allegedly "killing Keystone"/calculation is won't be big deal to really kill it 60 days

In other words, the White House may have already made a political calculation that it could safely turn down the pipeline without damaging President Obama's reelection campaign.

I've looked at a second caveat. The State Department's original announcement of delay listed the factors it would weigh: "whether the proposed pipeline was in the national interest, considering all of the relevant issues together. Among the relevant issues that would be considered are environmental concerns (including climate change), energy security, economic impacts, and foreign policy." Section 3 of Senator Lugar's bill requires the President to either grant the pipeline permit if he determines that it's in the national interest, or report to Congress why not, including "consideration of economic, employment, energy security, foreign policy, trade, and environmental factors." That's not quite the same list - Lugar adds employment and trade, and omits climate. Lugar's bill might require approval. However, Lugar's bill isn't so different from the State Department factors; the employment aspect of Keystone XL is hotly disputed, and trade shouldn't be a make-or-break point. In short, the language of S.1932 does not create a trap for unwary Democrats.

3. The advantages for Democrats

Why should Republicans get all the talking points? Democrats should use this episode to generate some Kabuki theater moments of their own. The GOP has risked a tax hike on millions of Americans just to prove, once again, that the party is owned lock, stock, and barrel by Big Oil. By contrast, President Obama will demonstrate to the world that he rejects dirty tar sands oil when he rejects the pipeline. Far from being a "cave" on the pipeline, the vote gives the President a chance to reject it entirely.

9:37 AM PT: Update: President Obama gave a brief statement at 12:30 EST on the deal but did not mention the pipeline. Make of that what you will.

Originally posted to Climate Hawks on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 07:59 AM PST.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I leave it to others to analyze whether the (159+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    murrayewv, James Wells, pittie70, marina, tgypsy, Cedwyn, passionateprotagonist, orrg1, trykindness, War on Error, TomP, allensl, MKSinSA, SwedishJewfish, vcmvo2, ban nock, sodalis, Gary Norton, dpwks, tomasyn, Laurence Lewis, DWG, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, gundyj, gwilson, DawnN, LaughingPlanet, kerflooey, Dretutz, DAO, SallyCat, carver, WI Deadhead, DavidW, flatford39, matrix, allergywoman, beach babe in fl, doppler effect, gchaucer2, bluicebank, kimoconnor, implicate order, dotsright, bnasley, Garfnobl, LaFeminista, Sybil Liberty, NoMoreLies, Dobber, 417els, Fury, Orange County Liberal, Joes Steven, Siri, BCO gal, drjknock, OleHippieChick, MartyM, Rp, Ellinorianne, Sylv, semiot, sea note, maggiejean, Involuntary Exile, Senor Unoball, fou, zerelda, RainyDay, Sandino, MuskokaGord, grrr, GeorgeXVIII, angstall, Thinking Fella, krllos, Jeff Simpson, Setsuna Mudo, ANY THING TOO ADD, Turbonerd, jguzman17, Shelley99, Nica24, BobzCat, Methinks They Lie, itskevin, leonard145b, ORDem, princesspat, jamess, ZhenRen, pgm 01, Mimikatz, Little Flower, A Siegel, multilee, SingerInTheChoir, eztempo, Xapulin, wildweasels, missLotus, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, begone, boophus, Crazy like a fox, coolbreeze, maybeeso in michigan, Magnifico, One Pissed Off Liberal, BachFan, cotterperson, elwior, Loge, Joieau, in2mixin, ozsea1, Catte Nappe, dzog, JayDean, Leftcandid, virginislandsguy, Ashaman, ekyprogressive, LillithMc, BradKrumm, Lefty Coaster, CA Nana, ajr111240, smileycreek, maxschell, Seneca Doane, BarackStarObama, christine20, wonmug, TAH from SLC, kpbuick, divineorder, Angie in WA State, mimi2three, blueoasis, Larsstephens, Gowrie Gal, dewley notid, Wreck Smurfy, cocinero, terabytes, ItsaMathJoke, greengemini, navajo, DeminNewJ, RunawayRose, SolarMom, science nerd, nmjardine, eeff, sidnora, Eric Nelson, Maverick80229

    remainder of the Senate vote is a good deal for Democrats in the short term. My long term view is best summed up by the wild-eyed dirty hippies at the Economist:

    Everything else—the financial crisis, the life or death of the euro, authoritarianism or democracy in China and Russia, the Great Stagnation or the innovation renaissance, democratisation and/or political Islam in the Arab world, Newt or Mitt or another four years of Barack—all this will fade into insignificance beside the question of whether we managed to do anything about human industrial civilisation changing the climate of Planet Earth.

    "At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like." - Tim DeChristopher @RL_Miller

    by RLMiller on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 07:58:28 AM PST

  •  The thing about this whole show is (9+ / 0-)

    that the focus, here on Dkos and elsewhere, seems to be on the environmental  side of the issue.  The President is between a rock and a hard place -- Enviro support vs Union support.

    According to many reports, the Union side of the equation is saying that Keystone will generate 20k direct jobs and 100k indirect jobs.  It's not just the petrochem industry, though they want it too.

    Repugs supporting Unions? Really?  No, election leverage for 2012.

    IMHO, whatever the outcome, this will not end well for the Admin...tried to punt to 2013...ain't gonna happen

    Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

    by EdMass on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 08:25:59 AM PST

  •  Well, it's a loser for the White House (10+ / 0-)

    It was in his interest to punt this issue to 2013. Neither of his options is helpful electorally, and now it appears as though he may not be able to do that. Two months from now we'll know whether there was a "cave" or not.

    •  Keystone was a HUGE loser for the environment (33+ / 0-)

      the political significance has been highly overstated, IMHO.

      R.I.P. Troy Anthony Davis
      October 9, 1968 - September 21, 2011

      by SwedishJewfish on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 08:40:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In a global sense, it's a wash (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The Canadians will simply sell the oil to Asia (for a higher price, to boot - really, they should be thanking us!).

        •  I would surprised if that wasn't where most of (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eztempo, ozsea1, sidnora

          the pipeline's final product was going to end up anyway. Profit before country and all that.

          Can I have my vision back? I will live outside your city walls. - "Ride With Me" Steppenwolf

          by 135790 on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:34:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Canadians need a port to sell to Asia. Thus (8+ / 0-)

          Keystone to Texas.

        •  It will take them years (6+ / 0-)

          to get that in place. By then, hopefully, more people will have pulled their heads out of their asses and realized that climate change is real and needs to be addressed in a serious way.

          R.I.P. Troy Anthony Davis
          October 9, 1968 - September 21, 2011

          by SwedishJewfish on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:38:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The only way climate change (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ozsea1, divineorder

            will be addressed is once fossil fuels run out.

            Until then, the damage should be mitigated via a stiff carbon tax, which can be used to undertake a series of stopgap measures to keep society functioning . . . .

            •  Um, once the fossil fuels run out (1+ / 0-)

              we are pretty much fucked.

              R.I.P. Troy Anthony Davis
              October 9, 1968 - September 21, 2011

              by SwedishJewfish on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:46:53 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not really, the world is awash in (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ozsea1, divineorder

                energy - there's just no political will to use sensible forms

                But if there is no other option, we will.

                •  No, I'm saying we are "fucked" in terms (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  aliasalias, wonmug, RLMiller

                  of climate change.

                  The tarsands are the 2nd largest source of fossil fuels in the world. That's why the idea of tapping its reserves is so problematic. In the words of climate scientist Jim Hansen it would be "game over" for global climate change-there would be no turning back.

                  That's why anything that results in the delay of extracting all of the tar sands is a good thing.

                  R.I.P. Troy Anthony Davis
                  October 9, 1968 - September 21, 2011

                  by SwedishJewfish on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:53:57 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Delaying the inevitable . . . (0+ / 0-)
                  •  The tar sands are much less that 1% (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    of fossil fuel use now - and might eventually get up to 2 or 3%.

                    Coal is way worse, and expanding rapidly.  I'm not sure why the tarsands are treated so vehemently while MTR coal mining is more or less ignored - hypocrisy, perhaps.  To me, one of the Obama administration's more egregious acts was fast tracking 42 of 48 MTR coal permits upon taking action.

                    But in any event, essentially, a labor shortage is what is slowing tar sand extraction - not really anything more or less than that.

                    as the NYT points out, there's not much else stopping it.  If the demand is there, humans will use this resource.

                    As a stopgap measure, there already are railway links to the coast that the oil will be shipped on while the pipelines are being built (there already is a pipeline in place, btw).  

                    •  I know a pipeline is in place (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      ozsea1, divineorder, RLMiller

                      but this one would be bigger, and it would go straight to Texas. Also it would have crossed over the ogallala aquifer-a spill or a leak would be catastrophic.

                      I agree with you regarding coal being an even bigger threat. Lisa Jackson has been pretty effective at shutting a lot of the MTR operations down. But we have a long, long way to go there as well.

                      R.I.P. Troy Anthony Davis
                      October 9, 1968 - September 21, 2011

                      by SwedishJewfish on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 11:29:38 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  labor shortage? Canada has brought in workers (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      because the people of Canada are so opposed to the devestation few will work in the pit.

                      without the ants the rainforest dies

                      by aliasalias on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 12:28:24 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  No, that's not it at all (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        It's more like life in northern Alberta totally sucks and no one wants to go there . . . combined with the fact that there simply are few people in Canada with the necessary skills.

                        In the past, people from Atlantic Canada were happy to work in the Oil Industry, but they're having a bit of a boom themselves and a labor shortage of their own  (as explained in the link, which is from the local media) which is putting further stress on the worker situation.

                        A few years back, McDonalds and Timothy Hortons were closing at 7 PM in Alberta because of the shortage of (even unskilled!) workers - and gawd knows nobody hates those fine companies!

                •  Also, I think you are incorrect (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  as people see the increase in extreme weather, as their own lives are personally touched by climate-change related events, and as the evidence becomes indisputable that this is going to have a horrendous impact on the quality of life of their own children, we will find the political will.

                  R.I.P. Troy Anthony Davis
                  October 9, 1968 - September 21, 2011

                  by SwedishJewfish on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:57:31 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Extreme weather HAS increased (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ozsea1, divineorder

                    over the past decade while the number of people who "believe" in global climate change has decreased substantially.

                    Bottom line, people are stupider than you'd like to believe . . .

                    •  This is entirely possible (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      RLMiller, aliasalias, divineorder
                      people are stupider than you'd like to believe

                      But, I also think we have reached a tipping point, and the propaganda is not going to be as effective anymore.

                      R.I.P. Troy Anthony Davis
                      October 9, 1968 - September 21, 2011

                      by SwedishJewfish on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 11:21:49 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  They're coming back (4+ / 0-)
                      over the past decade while the number of people who "believe" in global climate change has decreased substantially

                      Recent polls show more support for climate science:

                      But since then, the number [of Americans who say climate change is happening] has climbed back up, though not to the fall 2008 levels. About half of the distance, about seven points until May of this year [2011], we found that 64 percent of Americans said that climate change is happening. link

                      and the Sept. 2011 Stanford/Ipsos poll

                      Our survey shows that more Americans today believe that global warming is occurring
                      compared to just a year ago. However, at the same time, the skeptics have become more
                      certain in their beliefs that global warming is not happening.
                      o The recent Reuters/Stanford/Ipsos poll finds a significant increase in the number of
                      Americans who believe the earth has been warming (from 75% in 2010 to 83%
                      now) in the last year. Currently, 83% of all adults say that global warming has
                      been happening while only 15% say they believe that it has not been happening.
                      § While attitudes on this issue differ between Democrats and Republicans, the
                      divide is not as great as the political debate might imply: Two-thirds
                      (66%) of Republicans believe global warming has been happening, as do
                      91% of Democrats. Thus, even a majority of Republicans express this
                      § The percentage of Americans who are extremely or very certain that
                      warming has been happening has also climbed, from 48% to 53%.
                      § However, people who do not believe in global warming have become more
                      resolute in their attitude (people extremely or very certain rose from 35%
                      in 2010 to 53% in 2011).
                      o A large majority (72%) of the country believes that if warming has been happening,
                      it has been caused either partly (45%) or mostly (27%) by things people have
                      been doing. 27% believe warming to be mostly the result of natural causes.

                      As the world warms, the reigning ideology that tells us it’s everyone for themselves, that victims deserve their fate, that we can master nature, will take us to a very cold place indeed - Naomi Klein

                      by mightymouse on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 11:54:48 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  We will hit the CO2 levels needed to raise (5+ / 0-)

              temperatures above 4 degrees C which will make areas of the world uninhabital far sooner than we will run out of fossil fuels.  

            •  someone got up on the wrong side of the bed (0+ / 0-)

              As the world warms, the reigning ideology that tells us it’s everyone for themselves, that victims deserve their fate, that we can master nature, will take us to a very cold place indeed - Naomi Klein

              by mightymouse on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 11:43:18 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Ugh, no. (4+ / 0-)

          I'm sorry, but I'm just so sick and tired of this argument, I'm starting to lose my patience with it.

          First of all, global warming is not the only environmental concern here.  There are real concerns about spills (has everyone forgotten the spill in Montana?) and damage to ranches and farms along the route--as well as the Sand Hills aquifer and associated wetlands which I'm sure you've heard of by now?  it's not just about global warming:

          The 63-year-old, Republican-voting rancher and other Nebraska landowners have begun to kick up a lot of dust over the Keystone XL, a 1,711-mile pipeline that, if built, will cut across Nebraska’s heartland as it funnels oil from the Athabasca sands of Alberta, Canada, to Gulf Coast refineries. They worry that the project, on which Calgary-based TransCanada (TRP) has staked much of its future, might damage the Sand Hills region, a huge wetland where an aquifer often runs just a few feet below the surface. The water in the Sand Hills is essential to many ranches and farms, and Thompson says the Keystone XL could do severe damage to this ecosystem. “You’re talking about potentially ruining people’s lives,” he says.

          The real problem with this whole "global net result" calculus is that is treats as nonexistent the very real people who are fighting to save their property and their livelihoods from this boondoggle.  To them, it matters HUGELY whether this pipeline goes through their property or not.  It just drives me nuts to hear people so blithely factor them out of the equation as if they don't exist.  It's arrogant, not to mention intellectually lazy.  This is much more complicated than whether there is a net increase in global GHG emissions.

          •  If they're not harmed, somebody (0+ / 0-)

            else will be.

            For example, WAY more people are harmed by environmental desecration when we buy our oil from places like Nigeria.

            And no matter what you say, pipelines are safer than rail (Canadian oil is already starting to be shipped to the Gulf Coast via rail) and are also more energy efficient.

            In any event, Americans seem to be irredeemably and monumentally obtuse to think that problems can be solved by attacking the supply rather than demand

            It's like 40 or 50 years of drug war lunancy nevery happened . . ..

        •  Maybe, but Bill McKibben just emailed that the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Canadians have halted some of their own:

          Here’s what we do know:

             The dirty energy industry wants the pipeline fast-tracked, and is demanding that the President grant or deny a permit within two months. They’re going to do all they can to make that happen.
              The administration knows that Americans don’t want that permit granted. They know because many of you encircled the White House in November,  and submitted more public comments than on any energy project in history, and because yesterday the climate movement flooded the White House switchboard with so many phone calls that the busy signal was the sound of the day. For all that work, thank you.

          Here’s what we don’t know: what happens next.

          Our hope — and what you should ask the President for when you write him — is that when he signs the bill he will say the obvious thing:

          “Two months is not long enough to review the pipeline. The Canadians themselves have just delayed review of their tar sands pipelines over safety concerns, and we’ve just come through a year that set a record for billion-dollar climate-related disasters; I’m not going to do a rush job just to please the oil industry lobbyists. So this pipeline is dead.”

          Since the State Department has already, in essence, said two months is not enough time, this should be straightforward.

    •  It's a loser for *this* whithouse, maybe. (5+ / 0-)

      Any truly environmentally-aware and -committed President would turn this into a rout against the captains of industry.

      But Obama has proved time and again (remember his reversal of his campaign pledge to extend the moratorium on offshore drilling just before the Macondo disaster?) that he's an industry shill and only changes spots (but not bedrock policies) when forced to by external forces, whether they be coal mines exploding, oil fouling the entire Gulf of Mexico, or pesky, high-profile protests at his front door that highlight the failings of Keystone.  

      In other words, when push comes to shove, my money is on him giving Keystone the green light.  

      "Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage." - Confucius -/- "Yeah, well, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi

      by nailbender on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:50:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A "cave in" means you opposed an idea but relented (10+ / 0-)

        under pressure.  I'm skeptical at best about this WH opposing this pipeline.   Transcanada clearly expects the project to go forward.

        I'll be very surprised if the WH ultimately kills this project.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:05:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You can also cave when you oppose a time line (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aliasalias, divineorder

          and agree to accelerate it, precluding your State Dept's stated need to "study the impacts."  I wouldn't bet against that, myself.

          But no, I don't think Obama opposes this any more than he opposed offshore drilling (despite his prior rhetoric) before he opened up the Gulf to new drilling permits, and then after the BP disaster he again greased the skids for resumption of permitting out there.    

          "Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage." - Confucius -/- "Yeah, well, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi

          by nailbender on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 11:08:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Breaking down "Big Oil".....The History (0+ / 0-)

        Since the invention of the automobile and Standard Oil, "Big Oil" has been pushy, aggressive, and greedy....In fact, the industry has very few redeeming qualities...They don't need any subsidies..They got them from their buddies in Congress....

        The President has no choice but to allow the pipeline...It is more about the perception than the reality...It is nothing but a political trap...If he allows the pipeline, he automatically gets re-elected...There are WAY more independent votes out there than environmental votes...He can tie Keystone to another year of payroll tax cuts and unemployment...IT WILL HELP THE ECONOMY...

        For the environmentalists...YOU SHOULD LET THIS ONE SLIDE..!!!   FDR AND Clinton would both approve of this pipeline.....Neither the Hoover Dam NOR the TVA are perfect...But those are proud progressive achievements...More importantly is what the "drill,baby, drill" folks are having to admit...Cheap and easy oil is gone forever...Maybe build an algol plant next to the pipeline and see which is cheaper...

    •  In 2 months we will also know... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Losty, eztempo

      if the Republicans will demand that Keystone be approved before they will sign on to a further extension of the payroll tax cut. It is a twofer for them. They get Keystone approved and they get Obama to cave yet again.

      •  Is it caving if it's what you want? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        No Public Option, now leaving STATES, Haley, Walker, Kasich et al to determine "Essential Care"

        Now this? "Rolling Over.. "

        Brer Rabbit Rolled over too.. 'Please don't throw me in the Briar Patch.."

      •  The Rethugs have already won their Keystone (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Boehner/Mcconnell & Co. already have won what they want from taking the payroll tax cut hostage viz. Keystone.  They'll have a whole new hostage to embarrass Obama with when the tax cut comes up in February.  This was a lose/lose for Obama ... well, a "lose now, and then lose all over again in two months over something new and improved!" uh, "victory" for the White House.

        The ineptitude is breathtaking.

    •  Hmm, will Obama cave on this? (0+ / 0-)

      Will dogs bark at the mailman?

      Will chocolate taste delicious?

      Will it hurt if I stub my toe really bad?

      Boy, these questions are hard. I guess we'll find out two months from now. Wow, the suspense is killing me.

  •  I can't remember where I read similar (4+ / 0-)

    but I'm sure I did, a couple of days ago, and I'm sure it wasn't at FDL. Just the headline, I didn't read the story.

    I'm not overjoyed at the deal anyway, the 2% added to everyone's paycheck helps the economy, and only adding it for a couple of months means more hostage taking in 2 months.

    "Slip now and you'll fall the rest of your life" Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 08:44:41 AM PST

  •  Saying no to the project in 60 days (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DavidW, grrr, eztempo, mightymouse

    doesn't preclude them from authorizing it later. I don't see it as a win or a loss for either side, actually.

    It also wouldn't be the first project that got started to give one side talking points then abandoned later ... after the monied interests pocketed millions. Just look at the roads in Afghanistan that never got built after billions were given to the contractors. All so we could tout the infrastructure we had ongoing there.

    Trump / Palin 2012: "You're Fired / I Quit"

    by MKSinSA on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 08:45:37 AM PST

  •  it's still not at all clear (19+ / 0-)

    where the president stands. he didn't kill the deal or even indicate an intention to kill it, he just deferred making a decision until after the election. interpret as you will.

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam (The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers)

    by Laurence Lewis on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 08:51:47 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the clarification, RL (10+ / 0-)

    As per usual, you enunciate what should be a quick and easy response by the Dems:

    The GOP has risked a tax hike on millions of Americans just to prove, once again, that the party is owned lock, stock, and barrel by Big Oil.

    But then again, I thought that rejecting the pipeline outright should have been an easy decision for Obama.

  •  Talking point for consipracy teabaggers (24+ / 0-)

    At Christmas dinner you might mention to your teabagger relatives that the Keystone XL pipeline is really just cover for the NAFTA super highway, a ruse to undermine U.S. sovereignty. Heh. I can already hear the gears seizing up.

  •  Looking only at the political optics, not the (10+ / 0-)

    substance, this is a loser for the President. The Republicans stared him down once again.

    He repeatedly said he would not accept a bill that tied Keystone with the payroll extension, and yet he did. Until he is willing to face them down on something he really wants/needs, such as UI or payroll extension, they will always call his bluff. He has to be willing to let these things lapse and then come back and hammer them with it.

    If every paycheck went down by 2% in January he would have the groundswell he needs to beat them. Right now, the electorate sees it as an abstract thing. That would change when they start getting less money.

    He'll have a chance again in 60 days. They will push Keystone and/or some other hostage on him and if he doesn't stand firm we'll have the same result. He must stop issuing veto threats or their equivalent unless he is is going to stand by them.

    Further, affiant sayeth not.

    by Gary Norton on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:04:00 AM PST

    •  thx (6+ / 0-)

      as I said in the tip jar, I leave it to others to analyze the short term aspects.

      Some of the initial rumors had an 11 or 12 month extension of the payroll tax cut, but the final deal was only 2 months. I don't know whether that's appalling negotiating by Senate Dems, or deliberate. Others want to weigh in?

      "At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like." - Tim DeChristopher @RL_Miller

      by RLMiller on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:08:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your Kabuki Theater theory is just another (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        aliasalias, divineorder, ProximalSuns

        11 dimensional chess scenario and Obama isn't doing either of those things; he's playing Third Way politics, plain and simple, and has been since he took office.  

        His presidency is an unmitigated disaster.  The GOP will get what it wants, just as offshore drilling permits are resuming, just as mine safety continues to be a bad joke, just as participating seriously in global efforts to slow down climate change is off the table, just as our Constitution is nothing more that a foot-wipe now, just as the MIC continues to sap our nation of money and transmits it's boot-on-the-throat culture to our local police forces, just as the financial sector continues to operate just as they have since Clinton signed the bills gutting the New Deal regulatory structure, just as war crimes are now legal in this country, just as the United States of America has become a true (albeit fledgling) dystopia.

        In other words, Obama will cave because that is what he does.  It's his MO, his signature, his legacy.

        Think about it: Obama was swept into office in a landslide electoral sea change, and yet now, a the end of three tortuous years, we have the most right wing elements of our society calling all the shots in DC, and he's used his veto power to combat them fewer times than any President since James Garfield - who was shot 4 months into his term, and died 10 weeks later.

        "Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage." - Confucius -/- "Yeah, well, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi

        by nailbender on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:42:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why don't you write your own diary (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Gary Norton, Ellinorianne

          as your protracted screed has little, if anything, to do with this one.

          R.I.P. Troy Anthony Davis
          October 9, 1968 - September 21, 2011

          by SwedishJewfish on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 11:06:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry about that. (5+ / 0-)

            I thought this diary was about the way the Dems and Obama have supposedly turned the tables on the GOP with the Keystone issue, despite the fact that Obama dropped his veto threat - even as the GOP refused to pay for the payroll tax cut extension with a surtax on upper incomes.

            If this diary had been about that (again my bad), my points about Obama's propensity to say one thing and do another, while capitulating continuously to a cadre of right wingers that would have made Barry Goldwater cringe, would have been on target.  

            I'll try to control myself for you in the future.

            "Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage." - Confucius -/- "Yeah, well, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi

            by nailbender on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 11:21:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I welcome the point of view, thx (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              nailbender, divineorder

              I don't agree w/everything you've said - I think Obama a mixed record on climate issues, neither all-good nor all-bad.  But I think it's important that we all feel free to elaborate on reasons why he'll cave or won't cave. (My pet peeve is those who just comment "I predict he'll cave" without any articulation why.)

              "At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like." - Tim DeChristopher @RL_Miller

              by RLMiller on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 12:05:06 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I can respect that (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RLMiller, Gary Norton
                I think it's important that we all feel free to elaborate on reasons why he'll cave or won't cave.

                I think the comment goes a bit further than that, and the "Obama is an unmitigated disaster" thing is just asking for a pie fight which I assume you don't want, but it's your "house" so to speak, your rules.

                R.I.P. Troy Anthony Davis
                October 9, 1968 - September 21, 2011

                by SwedishJewfish on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 04:24:49 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  I thought it was about the Keystone issue (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Gary Norton

              in particular, not the MIC, or the dozen or so other issues you brought up, but if the diarist is cool with it rant away.

              R.I.P. Troy Anthony Davis
              October 9, 1968 - September 21, 2011

              by SwedishJewfish on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 01:53:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  "The Republicans stared him down once again." (6+ / 0-)

      The Republicans keep throwing the same fastball over the heart of the plate, and the White House continues to sit their with its bat on its shoulder, trying to draw a walk.

      The real enemy of the good is not the perfect, but the mediocre.

      by Orange County Liberal on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:54:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Did you ever think that the President (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RLMiller, Gary Norton, boophus, eztempo

      and Democrats never really cared that much about the Keystone decision being pushed up and instead were the ones playing the Republicans?

      From a purely political point of view, I think this forced decision is very good for the President and Democrats for the following reasons:

      1. It allows the President to not have to actually make a decision since he will just say that it is the State Dept's decision to make and the State Dept will say one cannot be made because the information is not all in.

      2. There will be lots of nasty, incorrect nonsense spewed in February on this but by the time the election rolls around it will be long forgotten.

      3. It allows the President to have yet another example of Republicans more concerned about the wealthy and huge corporations than with their middle class constituents.

      4. Did Republicans really want to use eminent domain to take land from Americans and give it to a huge foreign oil company?

      •  I don't disagree on the substance. Keystone (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eztempo, divineorder

        has become the ANWAR of the lower 48. It is mostly a political litmus test. And yes, the President will not approve, will send his reasons as required by the law, which will be heavy on "not enough information" and we'll go on and fight the issue again. The Republicans don't want it on substance. They want it as a political issue.

        But in the meantime, he has once again told the Republicans that his veto threats are hollow, and that he'll eventually give in to get anything he considers dear. They will continue to play him until the day he allows something he wants to end. This does not portend well for the face off on the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

        Further, affiant sayeth not.

        by Gary Norton on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:48:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Read Crashing Vor's excellent diary (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Gary Norton, divineorder

          The Republicans are not just playing politics with this issue - they really want it passed as their overlords will profit mightily if it does.

          Since the Democrats control the Senate, the President's power to veto isn't even really necessary.   Nothing this political ever gets through to him.

          •  You and I are talking past each other. Obviously (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            eztempo, divineorder

            he wouldn't have to veto it. Off course Reid would keep that from having to happen unless the President decided it was in his interest. That's not the issue. The point is he laid down an absolute marker (I'm not using the v word) and then he pulled it back.

            Look, the Dems and the President did great on the 2012 CR, getting most of what they wanted and not having to give up much.

            But All the President got on this bill was a two month delay and the need to revisit all the issues again, from UI, payroll tax, doc fix, Keystone and more. I hold out hope that he thinks his political hand will be stronger in February than it is today. But at some point he's going to have to call their bluff.

            On Keystone, I'm very familiar with both the substance and politics of it. The debate is going to be with us well past the 2012 election and, as I said, the substance on both sides is being superceded by the politics.

            This entire Congress has not been and will not be about substance. It is all about positioning for the 2012 elections, Congressional and Presidential. The Republicans made that known after the 2010 elections and it was obvious even if they didn't say so. This is just another event in positioning for November.

            Further, affiant sayeth not.

            by Gary Norton on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 11:25:10 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I really don't like quoting Joe Wilson, but .... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary Norton

      in this case there's no choice re: Obama "you lie"

      He repeatedly said he would not accept a bill that tied Keystone with the payroll extension, and yet he did

      Don't issue a veto threat unless you mean it, otherwise everybody will conclude your word means nothing.

  •  Actually, the White House is the WINNER in this (5+ / 0-)

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:04:25 AM PST

  •  Well, sure it's kabuki (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    afausser, Orange County Liberal

    I'd feel a lot better if I knew that Obama knew that.

    •  I think the Republicans were the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RLMiller, Byblis

      ones that got played on this one.

      •  I honestly think Boehner and McConnell (0+ / 0-)

        felt like they owed the American people on this one...after the shenanigans they pulled back in the summer over the default.....

        They didn't put up too much fuss this time...They gave the  President what he wanted, got out of town, and gave their Tea Party wing what they think is red meat....

        The Tea Party folks aren't too smart, so they are happy....The pipeline will do more for perception than actual energy independence, but sometimes that means everything....

  •  A couple concerns (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLMiller, kimoconnor, grrr, eztempo

    Interesting that the 2 month extension lines up nicely for the GOP with the 60 day decision timeframe. If Obama waits until close to the end of the 60 days to make a decision, that may set Dems up for more concessions the next time around...

    Is anyone else concerned that Congress might find some other way to circumvent the state/presidential approval process as it stands now? I can't see how they would, given that the pipeline's currently an international project, but I've seen too many projects get pushed through after a huge fight to not be worried that someone might find a way.

  •  One key to build public support (13+ / 0-)

    to kill the pipeline is to educate the American people that the purpose of Keystone XL is to bring tar sands crude to Gulf Coast refineries. Too many buy the argument, especially conservatives, that the pipeline will lower gas costs in the US. Nothing could be further from the truth. The oil companies want to get the tar sands crap to refineries that can handle it AND then export the refined transportation fuels on the global market. The benefit to Americans will be zero. The environmental costs associated with the pipeline and increased emissions from refineries will be ours. The oil companies are the only beneficiaries of the pipeline. Any jobs created by increasing production of tar sands will be in Canada.

    The problem is to educate an uninformed populace that the pipeline will bring pollution, not jobs and cheaper energy. I find it helpful to remind people that our oil exports continue to rise, particularly from the Gulf Coast refineries even though our pump prices remain high.

    This is analogous to the supply side economics bullshit that tax cuts foster job creation and economic growth even though that is demonstrably false. So too is the smoke and mirrors on the benefits of the pipeline.

    Here are some recent numbers on our exports. Note that the countries on the receiving end all have the refined transportation fuels originating from Gulf Coast refineries with its existing refinery and tanker terminal infrastructure.

    Despite the notion that the U.S. is currently hugely reliant on foreign oil, the country sold 34,000 more barrels of petroleum products a day than it imported in November 2010. And, in both December and February, the U.S. sold 54,000 more barrels a day. Net imports have not been negative for nearly two decades.

    Part of this has to do with weak U.S. demand in recent years due to the recession. The other part rests on the growing demand in our own backyard for not only crude oil, but refined oil as well.

    Mexico, Latin America and even OPEC member Ecuador are some of the U.S.'s top customers for fuel products, namely refined oil. Rising demand in these countries far outpaces their capacity to refine crude oil into petroleum products like gasoline or diesel fuel.

    I hope your diary gets more eyes. This is a critical issue.

    Be radical in your compassion.

    by DWG on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:16:21 AM PST

  •  well done RL, great analysis.... (6+ / 0-)

    I see this as an environmental and Dem. win.  I agree that Obama has already taken a political hit on the issue and now can decide as he wants.

    •  Agreed. (6+ / 0-)

      The headlines made my heart sink until I read the actual text. POTUS can essentially do anything. There's no commitment except rendering a decision.

      So the big headline, IMHO, will give the GOP its talking points and a claim of an Obama cave. I don't believe for a second that they don't know that it's a defeat -- or a very potential defeat because it's no longer in their hands. Likely all the GOP wants out of it is the perception of an Obama defeat. They don't care about programs or people.

      I see it as a dem win.

      You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else. -- Sir Winston Churchill

      by bleeding heart on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:42:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for your analysis (5+ / 0-)

    I hope you are right!

    I put a STOP KEYSTONE sign in my window. I am glad to report it has caused a few neighbors to ask me "what is keystone?" which gave me a chance to educate them!

    This photo is from a protest against Keystone here in San Francisco when Obama visited for a fundraiser a couple of months ago:

    Rally against Keystone Pipeline during Obama fundraiser in San Francisco

    By the way, more pics on this and many other issues at the DailyKos Photo Coop!

    Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

    by kimoconnor on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:32:13 AM PST

  •  The GOP talking points on this one, unfortunately (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RainyDay, Losty, peregrinus

    are really effective, by suggesting these are shovel-ready jobs (they say 60,000, but that's inflated) the WH is trying to kill.

    There's going to be immense pressure on the WH to approve the pipeline.  The only way they hold out is if a) they realize there will still be ten months to the election, plenty of time for people to forget this little tempest in a teapot, and b) they decide to wager on gradually improving unemployment.

    If the unemployment rate by June is nearing 6 percent, unemployment will not be an issue in November.

    Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
    ¡Boycott Arizona!

    by litho on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:33:03 AM PST

    •  That's not the half of it (0+ / 0-)

      Perception is everything  and the average unemployed worker, union or otherwise perceives that a lot of jobs  will be required to complete a project this large.   The oil will revitalize  the refining industry at the Gulf, saving or adding more jobs.

      At the same time we have the fanatics ruling Iran (and soon maybe Iraq)  making threatening noises about closing the Strait of Hormuz  so the drive to separate ourselves from Mideast oil  becomes more urgent.     Also, one guess as to who buys all this oil from Canada if we don't.  

      Finally, on this reality based site it should be obvious that cutting off an established energy source  before greener sources are ready for prime time during a depression  is not going to win admiration for Democrats from the people who are suffering out there.

    •  The perceived economic benefit will only (0+ / 0-)

      help the economy....6% unemployment is out of the question....


      They're not always perfect...Lots of people died building the Hoover Dam.....TVA polluted a LOT of rives and lakes...!!!!  

      The pipeline is not perfect...but it's the closest thing the Republicans are going to allow as far as stimulus...!!!

  •  I predict Obama... (7+ / 0-)

    ....will cave on this, just like he has on one issue after another.

  •  incorrect reporting, including (4+ / 0-)

    'the man of many ties', our dapper little Orin Hatch of Utah calls Obama "scaredy cat" and claims:

    “His environmental extremists don’t want it, and yet all of his union people, including the Teamsters, do want it because it means 20,000 new highly paid jobs, and it also means an alleviation of some of our dependency on foreign oil,” Hatch said.

    Read more:

    Nope, more like 5,000

    "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

    by Sybil Liberty on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:45:11 AM PST

  •  Schumer (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLMiller, rja, eztempo

    this morning:

    "As for the pipeline, we feel as though we're giving them the sleeve off a vest"

  •  Boxer suggests that GOP's move might have kill (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLMiller, divineorder

    Keystone and Rachel Maddow reported last night that State Department officials indicated that Keystone might be killed as well because of this move.

    I'm sure GOPers knew it but they wanted Obama to own it so they can stay "Oh Obama killed jobs"

    "Rick Perry talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans." --- James Carville

    by LaurenMonica on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:52:05 AM PST

    •  I would generally trust Boxer on this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RLMiller, LaurenMonica

      I sure hope she is right and this essentially kills this. But considering how unpatriotic the GOP is these days, I have no doubt they will try to revive this.

      It is up to US to continue to let the president know we do not want this pipeline, we want to move ahead in order to get past our current reliance on fossil fuels!

      Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

      by kimoconnor on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:59:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama has lots of ammunition on this one (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Byblis, RLMiller

      if the Republicans want a fight.

      All he has to do is say, "I couldn't see taking away land from hard working Americans to give it to a huge oil company so that they can pump their dirty tar sand oil across our entire country so they can get to a port which can ship it off to China.   There are lots of potential environmental problems for those communities which the pipeline would run through or close to.   I cannot put the health of those citizens at risk by approving something which we don't yet know the potential impact."

  •  I wrote a diary yesterday (5+ / 0-)

    that I want to share here.

    Canada's Oil Ambitions and the Interference with US and International Progress on Climate Change

    Salon has a damning piece entitled, Big Oil and Canada Thwarted US Carbon Standards with hundreds of emails to back up their claims, emails obtained by the same kind of law we have here, freedom of in formation.   It shows how there was a concerted effort to interfere with State and National carbon standards by pouring millions of dollars of money into  a supposed "grassroots" organization called the Consumer Energy Alliance to lobby against these new standards as the usual job killers.  They push for, "Balanced Energy for America" and it has nothing at all to do with America but with Canada's burgeoning tar sands industry.

    It also explains why Canada backed out of Kyoto, their tar sands oil means over 400 billion in revenue.

    My 8-year-old, Charlotte, asked if Herman Cain's tax plan was called, "Mine, mine, mine!"

    by Ellinorianne on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 09:59:59 AM PST

    •  terrific diary - sorry I missed it yest. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like." - Tim DeChristopher @RL_Miller

      by RLMiller on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:04:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Okay, so a couple months ago (4+ / 0-)

      the President delays institution of tighter carbon standards.

      And then this?

      Tells me he was setting the table for this plate full of manure.

      Why is it that a 3% tax increase for the wealthy is considered "socialism" and an 8% wage cut for the middle class is "doing your part"? MartyM

      by delphine on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:28:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        it has to do with the fact that there is collusion between the very conservative Canadian Government and Republicans so that anything Obama attempts to pass goes nowhere, I think it is more complicated than that.

        My 8-year-old, Charlotte, asked if Herman Cain's tax plan was called, "Mine, mine, mine!"

        by Ellinorianne on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:56:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What was the reason (5+ / 0-)

          that Obama blocked his own administration from instituting carbon emissions reductions rules for another couple years?

          This had nothing to do with the GOP.  It was an executive decision, bucking his own EPA.

          Citing "the importance of reducing regulatory burdens," President Obama on Friday blocked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from finalizing a tougher smog standard a panel of EPA scientific advisers said is needed to protect public health.

          The White House sent the proposal back to the EPA "for reconsideration," but said the president "made it clear he does not support finalizing the rule at this time."

          Obama's move stops EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson from revising a Bush administration ozone standard she told Congress in July would not survive a court challenge. The decision comes amid continuing pressure from business leaders and Republicans in Congress, and as Obama himself has begun to speak much more critically about government limits on industry.

          "The Obama administration knows the heavy cost of smog pollution, but has made the terrible decision to leave outdated, weak standards in place, leaving thousands of Americans who suffer from lung and breathing problems at the mercy of this dirty air," said Martin Hayden, vice president of policy and legislation at the group Earthjustice.

          Nothing to do with the GOP blocking anything.  This is clearly a preview of things to come.  Like approving the pipeline.

          Why is it that a 3% tax increase for the wealthy is considered "socialism" and an 8% wage cut for the middle class is "doing your part"? MartyM

          by delphine on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 11:03:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The only difference any of this makes, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLMiller, RainyDay

    is whether the pipeline goes to the US or BC with the tar sands oil being sold here or in the Far East.

    ",,, the Political whorehouse that is Fox News." Keith Olbermann

    by irate on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:01:23 AM PST

    •  Come on. (4+ / 0-)

      Do you really think they want to go through the Rockies?

      No. This is a deal between the corrupt Canadian government and the corrupt US government.

      It will go down through the US and the oil will be shipped from there to China and Europe.

    •  T' "only difference" is through Sand Hills, or no? (0+ / 0-)

      The Canadians are clear they don't want the expense of boring a pipeline through the Rockies to a much less-developed refining capacity in BC, but would much rather lay it quickly and cheaply across the flat plains of the U.S. to the robust refining & shipping ports of Louisiana.

      This pipeline is going to get built, it's pretty apparent.  The only question is whether it's going to run through the Sand Hills of Nebraska in the face of protests from both that State's legislature and from environmentalists, or it's going to be re-routed around the Sand Hills and given the nod after the 2012 election, when doing so will not have the political impact on holding the White House for Democrats that it will have if it's OK'd now.

      Orrin Hatch uttered "the fix". the common knowledge, that's driving the decision making in DC:

      "Everybody knows we’ve got to do that project. Everybody knows we need the oil. Everybody knows it’s a shovel-ready project. Everybody knows that it is going to amount to thousands and thousands of jobs that we need right now,” Hatch said. “I mean, what’s the problem?”

      - - -
      BREAKING NEWS (at least to me):  The Toronto Sun is reporting that the Sand Hills deal is already struck:
      TransCanada, the company proposing the pipeline, and the state of Nebraska have reached agreement on a new route that avoids a sensitive aquifer and drinking water source.
  •  I think if he didn't want it in there (6+ / 0-)

    he would have pressed Reid to leave it out.

    I think he wants to approve it (not the first time he's made a shitty call on the environment) but he wants to be "forced" by Congress.

    So he can blame them for a horrible decision.  Oooops, couldn't help it!!

    That silly Congress!!

    I would LOVE to believe it's Kabuki.  We thought that during the budget fight (Even Lawrence O'Donnell described the kabuki with glee) and then it was just another cave.

    I had a dream last night that, in addition to his WH duties, President Obama also worked in a cubicle in my office.  I was giving someone a tour and joking that I try really hard not to stare at him.

    Seriously.  When I woke up, all I thought is - if he were in a cubicle in my office he would have a HUGE piece of my mind by now.  Pipeline?  WFT??  Fire the corporate whores in your admin!!  Go after the banks!!  Voting Voting Voting!!  Do something about VOTING!!!!  The GOP hates you, stop trying to reach deals!!!!!!! Recess appointments!!!!!

    He's lucky he doesn't work in my office, lol.

    Why is it that a 3% tax increase for the wealthy is considered "socialism" and an 8% wage cut for the middle class is "doing your part"? MartyM

    by delphine on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:26:23 AM PST

  •  I'm preparing myself to be disappointed. (5+ / 0-)

    There's no way I'm going to "hope" myself into thinking the right thing will be done here.

    The only thing I can count on is a political calculation.

    That's it.

    And whatever the bean counters in the WH come out with in their "calculations" will dictate the decision, regardless of science, regardless of data, regardless of will come down to a metric of "how does it play with the focus group."

    Every election either the democrats lose or the republicans lose. But in every election there is always the same winner. And he drives a Mercedes.

    by Methinks They Lie on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:28:22 AM PST

  •  60 days on Keystone. Two months on unemployment (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLMiller, afausser, StevenJoseph, pot, 0wn

    and payroll tax cut.

    60 days equals two months, more or less, last time I checked.

    Kick the can, kick the can, kick the can.

  •  So, Did not mention pipeline.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StevenJoseph, RLMiller


    1. Accept it, wreck base, and the new Nebraska (and other) Republican environmentalists.. (they hate it too..)

    2. Decline it, and he will be "Against Jobs" and we Republicans tried to get jobs and us off foreign oil", But ALL DEMS were against..    Did we mention that Wyden and the Dems want to Kill MEdicare too?

    Great options.

    Note, #2 may not be accurate, but the Reps will runh ad after ad, after ad on that.  And the Wyden bill kills Medicare as we know it, so that is accurate on its face..

  •  HOW Convenient! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLMiller, StevenJoseph

    That Lugar found time to delete "Climate" concerns,
    in favor of status quo rationales, like "Jobs and Trade" ...

    GLOBAL WARNING - Antarctica Ice Melting Fast
    Global Warming Potential Sea Level Rise of 75 Metres
    BBC News

    Nothing to see here people ... move along, ... drive along ...

    give us more Bizn as Usual, please.  Honk, honk.

    What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.
    -- Maslow ...... my list.

    by jamess on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:37:50 AM PST

  •  The GOP political calculation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in addition to amping up the "job destroying" mantra, may also involve their understanding of and exploitation of Obama's left flank: they know that lazy headlines will infuriate it, and ignorance of the details depress it, and may well be counting on it to put Obama in an uncomfortable political position.

    "I don't want to know about evil, I only want to know about love..." -- J. Martyn

    by BobzCat on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:40:24 AM PST

  •  After the cave on the tax surcharge for the rich, (5+ / 0-)

    nothing else mattered.  Obama lost whatever political leverage he had.  At least this time he didn't cave on the surcharge in advance.  Maybe by 2016, if he's re-e-lec-ted, he'll get the hang of it.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:41:11 AM PST

  •  This reads like a whole lot of other (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aliasalias, orange dog

    "don't panic yet" diaries that have been posted on DailyKos since Obama was elected.  Let's list the themes of some of them:

    1. Don't panic yet because they are still fighting for the public option!

    2. Don't panic yet because Obama hasn't caved yet on extending the Bush tax cuts!

    3. Don't panic yet because Obama hasn't caved yet on the debt deal!

    4. Don't panic yet because Obama has threatened to veto the bill with the indefinite detention amendment.

    Experience tells us that when it looks like Obama and the Democrats are caving, they are caving.  I'm amazed that people still write these "don't panic yet" diaries.

    If concentrated wealth is great for the economy, then why do wealth concentrations always proceed economic disasters?

    by StevenJoseph on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:41:50 AM PST

  •  The timing challenge ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLMiller, boatsie

    I see the R game to be 'approve the pipeline within the 60 days or else we won't agree to extending the social security tax cut past 60 days'.

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:45:46 AM PST

    •  watching the repub debate thurs (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, RLMiller

      and they were so on message re Keystone .. first time i recall it coming up in a debate??? (Although they frequently talk about the Prez's  failed energy policy)

      and I think the point is that Americans won't get the chance or the ACCESS to the truth about Keystone... they will only be privy to the false information about 20,000 jobs and how Obama is siding with the rapidal left environmentalist quacks in SF ... to paraphrase Newt...

      Here's the factchecker on Keystonebefore the debate and before the legislation.

      I wish i could be more obtimistic, but given how few Americans know anything about Keystone (despite the hugely successful 350 campaign, these low info voters don't even know or tarsands or TransCanada) all they are going to be fed by our media for the next 60 days is Obama is spending, spending, spending, losing your money on alternative energy AND preventing 20,000 jobs from coming to USA. That's it.

      We just don't have a bullhorn big enough ...  

  •  State can do something else. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crazy like a fox, orange dog

    The State Department can also demand that those that build the pipeline put funds in escrow that are to be used in the event of a spill. The amount should be that which provides for potable water for the entire Ogallala Aquifer say 2 million people and their livestock for the period in which the Aquifer can be cleared of pollution say a hundred years. For the exact number you can check with Picatinny Arsenal in NJ which is still pumping water out of the aquifer to clear pollution from WW I.

    All they have to do is put out a memo. There is no Congressional Approval required. It is a nice business  approach. Just insurance. They can have the money back  in a hundred years. I understand the Repubs like using the business approach.

  •  Bring it on... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    let's see where he stands on this before the election.

  •  Obama needs to run an end game (0+ / 0-)

    around the Republicans. He needs to insist that
    1. TransCanada build out solar and wind farms in the US to offset the CO2 differential of the dirty oil.'
    2. Insist that a Green Fee of $x/per gallon be assessed on all oil shipped thru the pipeline... this money will be used to set up a Green Fund for grants and loans for this Green energy buildout... wind, solar, retrofits, rail, etc. Since Congress refuses to fund his Green vision, make it a condition of the approval... a fund that is constantly funded from the dirty oil...that does NOT need Congressional approval... think " pennance" or "punishment"  surcharge.
    The oil companies will do it, because its cheaper to do that then to have him not approve the pipeline and they will have to start from scratch all over again.... which will cost them billions. He also runs around an obstructionist Congress that refuses to fund his programs.
    Yes, the oil is filty, but its better to have it fund US Green transition then have it strengthen China, who will do nothing to offset the CO2 differential. and it will lessen their influence in Canada.
    Also, if a new pipeline is built to the west coast of BC, The US Pacific NW is at peril of a major oil spill.... that factor needs to be considered also.
    Its better for the US to control the dirty oil and have control of it then let if be shipped to others.. and use the money generated from the pipeline fee and new wind and solar projects to offset its dirty consequences. The US could even provide Fed lands for the wind and solar projects if they have to.. to sweeten the deal. Not having to buy land makes it more palatable for an oil company. Make the Devil fund the redemption.

  •  This deal leaves the tax cut un-done (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What gets me about this deal is that, not only do the Rethugs get 'hot-button quotes come election 2012' -- "Obama's anti-energy independence," "Obama spits in the face of unions," "Obama kills jobs so hippies can celebrate" & whatever -- but that Reid and the Administration absorb that political hit, and then have to come back in two months and submit to yet another hostage-taking over the same damn issue -- payroll tax cuts for 160 million Americans -- linked to whatever new thing Boehner and McConnell wish to beat them about the head and shoulders with in February.

    Now, it might be more advantageous to the Administration to fight out payroll tax relief in February when people are paying attention, rather than during the Christmas season distraction.  If that's the case, then I hope they're lining up their union support for delaying the decision to go ahead with the pipeline -- but with a new route through the sensitive Sand Hills of Nebraska to be determined -- and are drafting the pithy talking points about saving the $1,000-per-year break for working families.  But, somehow, given how inept Reid and the White House have proved themselves to be on messaging these hostage crisis in the past, I doubt they're gathering strength for a renewed fight in two months.

    BTW:  I'm pretty sure that the Administration was inclined to accept the pipeline when they postponed a decision last month under pressure from environmentalists.  I'd guess that the odds of Obama rejecting the project outright are slim.  Push comes to shove in 60 days, I'm betting the Administration gives the project a provisional go-ahead, calling for studies for re-routing the Nebraska section before that segment is finalized.  Perhaps hoping that that announcement is overshadowed by the renewed "crisis" of Republican intransigence over extending the payroll tax cut unless Obama agrees to ___ (fill in the next thing of Boehner's wish list), and that we DFH's aren't paying attention as a result.

    All-in-all, I don't see what was gained by not having the fight now, rather than giving the Rethugs a second bite of the apple in two months and an opportunity to win a second thing on their list of election year "embarass Obama" issues.

  •  BP got their new leases; TransCanada will get (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    their Keystone XL pipeline.

    Being a serial polluter doesn't disqualify you from getting what you want from the Obama administration (and, of course, from  Bush/Cheney before that). Both parties are in the pockets of big oil

    BP showed that it wasn’t going to let a little oil spill prevent it from going after more deepwater opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico. This week, in the government’s first auction of gulf leases since the Deepwater Horizon explosion, 20 oil companies bid for blocks covering 21 million acres. BP bid on 15 leases and ended up as the high bidder on 11 of them, for which it will pay $27 million. The entire sale is expected to gross about $340 million.

    The lease sale took place despite a lawsuit from environmental groups claiming that the feds hadn’t done enough to ensure safer operations in the wake of BP’s spill of roughly 5 million barrels from its Macondo prospect.
    In Iraq Oil Deal, Tony Hayward And Nat Rothschild Are Now Partners With Sinopec Christopher Helman Christopher Helman Forbes Staff
    Which American Owns The Most Oil? Christopher Helman Christopher Helman Forbes Staff
    41 images Photos: America's Dirtiest Cities

    “The federal government is failing to learn from one of the most environmentally and economically destructive incidents in U.S. history,” David Pettit, senior attorney with Natural Re

    sources Defense Council, told Bloomberg.
  •  I hope you are right (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLMiller, StevenJoseph, pot, wonmug

    but excuse us if we are vigilant and continue to urge wh and state dept NOT to pass this.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 11:51:27 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the facts. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  This will be passed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    0wn, Crazy like a fox

    after the election, when there are no consequences. The 1% always win with this administration...

    I didn't abandon the fight, I abandoned the Party that abandoned the fight...

    by Jazzenterprises on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 01:16:22 PM PST

  •  I Agree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When the Republicans scream at Obama for the killing of a few pipeline jobs, he can just fire back with the far bigger # of construction jobs the Republicans killed by blocking passage of his Jobs Bill.


    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 03:01:33 PM PST

  •  The GOP wants the issue for the election. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's the only explanation that makes sense.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 03:40:06 PM PST

  •  Ummm.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    At best, it gives President Obama a chance to affirm his commitment to environmental and climate issues, and reject the pipeline completely.

    They're not giving him that chance.  He's had that chance for months now, sitting right in front of him.

    It's not like their attempt to require him to do it allows him to do it when he could not previously do it.

    Sometimes, constructing sentences that make a simple sort of sense seems to me an activity lacking in challenge.

    She's the sort of person who would not only happily stay in Omelas, but would ask "Couldn't life be more wonderful if we threw a few more kids in there?"

    by JesseCW on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 04:20:48 PM PST

  •  It's a cave. Threatened veto. Will now sign it. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    orange dog

    Pretty much defines a cave.

    Obama takes an immediate hit for being a weakling, threatening a veto and then backing down.

    As for his ability to use his "Kabuki" skills to a sow's purse out of a sow's ear by delaying the XL Pipeline decision again, that simply angers the two Democratic consitutencies who are involved in the bill, the unions who want the jobs (though it is not likely the Kock brothers will be hiring union labor to build their pipeline) and the environmentalists who want to save the US from oil use destruction and save the planet from carbon death.

    Both will be angry that Obama is failing to take a stand on a tough issue. Both will believe that Obama will betray them after the election.

    So Obama loses with main stream voters for being weak and loses with Democratic base for being cowardly.

  •  Atmospheric Defecation (0+ / 0-)

    is probably the way to look at this pipeline.  We are literally taking this tar and defecating it into the atmosphere.

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