WASHINGTON – If President Barack Obama vetoes the Keystone XL pipeline as a defense of executive authority,he might approve it the next day as good idea for the country.
Kate Sheppard,environment and energy editor at the Huffington Post,suggested that possibility Tuesday in a discussion about the controversial pipeline.
She and two other journalists who cover energy agreed that Obama wants the Keystone pipeline built,but he doesn’t like the bill in Congress that would take away his authority to approve the project. Hence,he could veto the bill and approve the pipeline.
Sheppard took part in a clean energy discussion at the Pew Charitable Trust.
“The keystone debate has become so much more than a pipeline,” she said.
The House passed one version of the bill and the Senate another. That requires a conference committee to produce common language that both can approve. Once that happens,the bill will be sent to the White House for approval,but Obama has promised a veto.
Stephen Lacey,senior editor at Greentech Media,moderated the conversation between Sheppard and Monica Trauzzi,managing editor and host for Environment & Energy TV,about the Republicans’ first bill as the majority in Congress.
Trauzzi said Republicans introduced such a controversial bill because they “wanted to mark a little territory.”
Obama has been waiting to pass judgment on the pipeline until the State Department files reports from eight agencies about environmental effects. The Monday deadline for the report passed with no mention of the pipeline.
Jen Psaki,State Department spokeswoman,addressed the deadline Tuesday at the daily press briefing. Psaki said the department would not comment on the agencies’ submissions while the department evaluates the pipeline.
“We will treat the agencies’ replies as part of an internal interagency process. They’re not mandated by the executive order to provide their views on the national interest regarding the proposed project,but we were required to request their views,” Psaki said.
She declined to say whether the agencies had responded.
The controversy started six years ago when TransCanada applied for presidential permission to build the pipeline that crosses from Canada to Montana,South Dakota and Nebraska.
Congress has tried seize authority from the president for six years,but previous bills have failed. The Senate debated the Keystone XL pipeline bill for three weeks before passing the current bill.
The energy journalists agreed that this bill puts Obama in a tricky spot because environmental groups are pressing him to veto the bill,but Congress is urging him to sign it.
“I bet he would love to pass it,” Lacey said about Obama’s likely views of the project.
The journalists also talked about Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse,D-R.I.,and his amendment to the Keystone bill stating climate change is real and not a hoax. This amendment was supposed to but the Republicans in a tough spot,but the amendment does not say humans cause climate change,which Republicans strongly refute.
“Democrats want to put Republicans on the record. Republicans want to make Democrats look bad,” Sheppard said.
The journalists think it’s a possibility that Obama would veto the bill,but still approve construction later because he does not want to give Congress the power to approve international construction requests.
Even if the bill passes,Trauzzi said the pipeline will still have to deal will lawsuits from landowners and low oil prices.
“It’s not an issue that’s going to bed anytime soon,” she said.
Reach reporter Tori Knueven at [email protected] or 202-408-1492. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.