Keystone XL will be the singular factor that decides Obama's record on climate change and the environment.
It's true that Obama has supported policies that help in the battle against climate change.
• A $3.4 billion Smart Grid Investment Grant (part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009), which would affect 49 states and has the potential to reduce electricity use by more than 4% by 2030,Obama has made many public commitments to battling climate change.
• The launch of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) project under the Department of Energy and in collaboration with the Department of Defense, modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency,
• A new report on how the federal government can help create a "self-sustaining home energy efficiency retrofit industry"
• New efficiency standards for home appliances,
• A new National Fuel Efficiency Policy that will apply to cars from model years 2012-2016 and will ultimately require cars to have an average fuel efficiency of 35.5 mpg by 2016,
• Three measures to increase the production of biofuels: a renewable fuels standard, biomass crop assistance program, and a biofuels working group. The President has also created an interagency task force to help create a federal strategy for carbon capture and storage, and
• A new Environmental Protection Agency ruling (called the Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule) requiring the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions by major emitters in the United States.
In doing so, he acknowledges that he understands the consequences of not doing everything in our power to reverse it.
We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.
He now has the opportunity to make probably the most significant decision of his Presidency, with regards to climate change. While it is true that the Keystone XL would not had advanced this far without Congressional approval, President Obama now has sole discretion over whether or not Keystone XL goes any further.
The result of those visits (and of the fossil fuel industry flexing its political muscle) has been a nonbinding amendment to the budget voted on by the U.S. Senate 62-37 in favor of building the pipeline, and the U.S. House also voted 241-175 in favor of HR-3 a similar bill. However, the decision whether to build the Keystone XL pipeline rests entirely with President Barack Obama.President Obama was willing to publicly address climate change as recently as his last Inaugural Address. Meanwhile, he has not publicly stated whether or not he would approve Keystone XL. If he was not 100% willing to prove his commitment to combatting climate change by rejecting Keystone XL, he should never has mentioned it in the first place.
Had he not made public commitments to climate change with Keystone XL in the works, he would not be risking a fracture in the alliance between activists who actually want to see meaningful action on climate change and the rest of the Democratic Party. He would not be making the most visible statement that his administration belongs to corporate donors and lobbyists and not the grassroots organizers and door knockers who engineered back-to-back popularly-supported elections. He would have a bit more political room to maneuver on Keystone XL. Whatever his public commitments to climate change were, so long as he rejected Keystone XL, he would have come out with immense environmentalist goodwill no matter what. However, if he ultimately approves Keystone XL, his public commitments to climate change action make his betrayal all the more noteworthy, concrete, and without room to maneuver. He will have lost the trust of a valuable and loyal group of Democrats.
Obama's climate change victories pale in comparison to the impact Keystone XL would have, environmentally and politically. James Hansen, one of the most famous scientists to have spoken out about climate change, makes clear what the green lobby will think of Obama if he approves this.
If he chooses the dirty needle it is game over because it will confirm that Obama was just greenwashing, like the other well-oiled coal-fired politicians with no real intention of solving the addiction.Among his own party, Keystone XL will be treated as a larger scandal than all the fabricated scandals the GOP could ever hope to pin to Obama.
Obama's success at the polls, and likely many of the Democrats' who rode his coat-tails, depended significantly on his support for addressing climate change during the presidential elections. Losing this group of voters, no, stabbing them in the back, could potentially cripple the party in the elections following Keystone XL.
Obama has failed in some of his campaign promises already, for example, on promising that his administration would be the most transparent ever. It didn't take very long for us to see where the shoe dropped on that one.
All his other failed promises, however, were mostly a disappointment to the base as a whole, and knowing that the alternative of McCain or Romney on these issues would probably not have been any better tempered much of the backlash within the party.
However, unlike these other failures, Keystone XL would be a middle finger to valuable Democratic support, leading to some problematic primaries in the next couple elections, possibly even losing people outright to a party that can possibly even apply political pressure from the left.
Obama deserves a lot of credit for the policies he's supported that aligned with the Democratic ideology, but he also gets away with a lot of betrayals of the ideology. If there's one time he should be held accountable by the Democratic party, it should be on Keystone XL. Because many signs indicate that if the party doesn't hold him responsible, the voters will hold the party responsible.
The people who are actually trying to make a difference on climate change deserve an ally who isn't just paying them lip service, the Democratic Party deserves a candidate who does not abandon the Democrat ideology for which they nominated him, and the American people deserve a President who will not compromise their interests and futures in exchange for corporate goodwill.