The Keys to Keystone

The Keystone pipeline fight offers a wonderful opportunity to split the left, if Republicans are clever about it.  Obama is going to be under immense pressure to block the pipeline, but it will be so obvious that he is catering to unpopular green extremists that a vote to overrule him in Congress will be something that even Harry Reid will have trouble blocking forever.

Check out Jonathan Chait, as reliably liberal as they come, saying there is now no reason to block the pipeline:

So, what public policy reason is there to block the pipeline? There really isn’t one. Indeed, the environmentalists’ obsession with Keystone began as a gigantic mistake. . .  I think [blocking Keystone] would feed criticism by opponents that Obama is captive to environmentalists, even to the point of following their quixotic and marginal obsessions.

I especially like this bit:

Cooper mockingly asks readers to envision a protest where organizers shout, “What do we want?” “More stringent carbon dioxide emission regulations on extant coal-fired power plants!” “When do we want it?’ “After the extraordinarily complicated rule-writing process over which the president has no direct control!” It certainly may be easier to get people excited about opposing a pipeline. It may also be hard to get people excited about favoring new regulations.

The logic here is why I continue to worry Republicans will trade Keystone approval for some dreadful idea like a carbon tax, or new carbon regulations.  Why fold when you have a strong hand?

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