So Keystone has become a high-stakes political chess game following the president's decision to kill the project. This Talking Points Memo article says Republicans have no expectations of getting Obama to sign infrastructure legislation including a Keystone rider, but they'll attach the rider anyway as a pure political play: to blame Obama during the campaign for opposing job creation and economic growth.
Frankly, I'm not betting the farm on Obama vetoing the bill, particularly if Republicans in exchange go along with his cherished hike in infrastructure spending, designed precisely to create jobs. As the article says, even his Democratic base is split on the pipeline, at a time when jobs truly are THE issue in this election.
The case for a veto no matter what is, I believe, stronger. Politically, he shows backbone and principle, can blast Republicans for the same anti-job position they want to pin on him, and secures the grassroots support he so desperately needs from his environmental base, the same base he has mutilated into apathy with other antagonistic ecodecisions.
But then again, on the subject of backbone and principle, the president has been quite convincing of late that he doesn't have any when it comes to climate change. The signs are anything but reassuring.
The U.S. was one of the countries that most blocked progress (even simple steps) at Durban. Obama's new all-or-nothing energy policy proudly includes record hikes in American oil and gas exploration. And when he "killed" Keystone, I've warned earlier that we would be ill advised to celebrate much, so absent from his statement was any mention of climate change. Now, if he was willing to turn on the climate at these crucial moments, what makes us think he'll stick to the Keystone decision in the face of potential political risk?
The writing is all over the wall, folks. This man has simply abandoned the climate in favor of his reelection. He fails to see the political, historical and economic value (to him!) of standing up to the Republicans on this all-important issue. So don't let his support of cleantech fool you. On Keystone, we simply do not know which way he'll go.