No less than three environmental reviews have found that the Keystone Pipeline that would transport nearly 1 million barrels per day of Canadian oil sands crude to Gulf Coast refineries is reasonably safe. This afternoon, the House of Representatives voted 252-161 in favor of legislation approving its construction for the 9th time. With Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) about to be knocked off his perch as the majority leader, when the bill comes up for a vote in the Senate on Tuesday some frustrated Senate Democrats may feel free to vote for it next week.
Because Reid as able to keep the legislation bottled up, President Obama was never directly confronted with the problem of choosing to veto the project or not. Thus he had the luxury of vacillating between his union backers who want the project and his environmentalist supporters who do not. Faced now with the prospect of being forced to make a decision, the president has strongly signaled that his instinctual anti-market ideology will guide his actions. From The New Republic:
"Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn't have an impact on US gas prices," he said, according to ABC News. "If my Republican friends really want to focus on what's good for the American people in terms of job creation and lower energy costs, we should be engaging in a conversation about what are we doing to produce even more homegrown energy? I'm happy to have that conversation."
Whenever the president invites anyone to have a conversation with him, what he really means is "shut up while I lecture you, you moron." Expect a veto next week.
Update: Obama has rejected the Keystone pipeline application one time before when Congress set a two-month deadline for its approval as part of a payroll tax cut back in 2012. That was not a veto, but a rejection of the company's application, which it has since refiled.*
*Hat tip to Sean Higgins.