The NY Times just posted several articles with newly released quotes from Obama's NY Times interview he just completed. So one of the articles was about Obama's take on the Keystone Pipeline and had the headline Obama Says He will Evaluate Pipeline Project Depending on Pullution. Now, that sounds like he basically re-iterated the criteria he set out for pipeline approval in his Cimate Speech, criteria that was vague enough to mean all things to all people. But I think he made some news, or at least shed some light on his views.
Excerpt below, with my thoughts below the fold:
NYT: A couple other quick subjects that are economic-related. KeystoneMy thoughts below the fold
pipeline -- Republicans especially talk about that as a big job
creator. You've said that you would approve it only if you could be
assured it would not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon in
the atmosphere. Is there anything that Canada could do or the oil
companies could do to offset that as a way of helping you to reach
MR. OBAMA: Well, first of all, Michael, Republicans have said that
this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that’s
true. And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the
facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates
are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the
pipeline -- which might take a year or two -- and then after that
we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 [chuckles] jobs in a
economy of 150 million working people.
NYT: Yet there are a number of unions who want you to approve this.
MR. OBAMA: Well, look, they might like to see 2,000 jobs initially.
But that is a blip relative to the need.
So what we also know is, is that that oil is going to be piped down to
the Gulf to be sold on the world oil markets, so it does not bring
down gas prices here in the United States. In fact, it might actually
cause some gas prices in the Midwest to go up where currently they
can’t ship some of that oil to world markets.
Now, having said that, there is a potential benefit for us integrating
further with a reliable ally to the north our energy supplies. But I
meant what I said; I'm going to evaluate this based on whether or not
this is going to significantly contribute to carbon in our atmosphere.
And there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands
could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release.
NYT: And if they did, could that offset the concerns about the pipeline itself?
MR. OBAMA: We haven't seen specific ideas or plans. But all of that
will go into the mix in terms of John Kerry’s decision or
recommendation on this issue.
So something that jumped out at me right away is the posture of the presidents answers, he basically comes off looking as someone who at least views rejection of the pipeline as a possibility and wants to set the record straight on its benefits, lest those facts be used against him.
Now, specifically, it was revealing to see how he pounced on the jobs numbers and even tsk tsked the media for not putting out accurate job figures. Beyond jobs, he then goes on to substantively critique the usefulness of the pipeline but a)correctly pointing out that the oil will not even be used in the US and b)contrary to what people says , the pipeline won't decrease the price of gas and actually has the chance of INCREASING gas prices in the midwest.
Almost as an afterthought, once he has gone through a litany of drawbacks, he throws an offhand line about how Canada being an ally and harmonizing our energy with theirs is important but then quickly goes back to saying the environmental issues will be the driving factor, and then ends by saying Canada could be doing more on their end.
Now, does this mean Obama's gonna definitely reject the pipeline. Hell No. But what it does mean is that AT THE VERY LEAST he's undecided, cause if he was for pipeline or even leaning that way, the way he answered the questions would be completely irrational and political malpractice. He basically said the pipeline won't create jobs, the oil coming for Canada won't be used in the US, and it may increase gas prices to boot. So, he severely narrowed his space on this issue, and has left himself a weak case to take to his base and the broader public should he go through with it.