Keystone Tea Leaves Today? (Updated)

Lots of “folks” (as Obama quaintly calls his fellow citizens) have puzzled over the language of Obama’s State of the Union speech—especially its omissions—to try to get a clue about what he may be thinking about the Keystone pipeline.  Canada is increasingly public in its fury about the delay in the decision, and when soft-spoken Canadians are publicly complaining, you know they’re really really angry.

Ben Geman, a solid environmental reporter at the National Journal, reports this morning that the State Department’s environmental review of Keystone may be released this afternoon:

The analysis of TransCanada’s proposed oil sands pipeline is slated to be unveiled as soon as today, according to published reports and sources tracking the process. A State Department official said late Thursday night that the report is in the “final stages of preparation” and will be released “soon.”  CNN, citing senior Obama administration sources, reported early Friday that the results of the study will surface Friday afternoon.

If true, it is interesting timing: why do you usually release major items on a Friday afternoon?  So they can disappear as much as possible from the news.  One side or the other is going to erupt in fury whatever Obama decides.  He can’t vote “present” forever on Keystone, though I’ve always thought he would try to put off a decision until after this year’s election.

He may still wait until after the election to make a formal decision, but the finding of the State Department report will be the major clue.  If Obama is against the pipeline, no doubt he has instructed John Kerry to make sure State’s conclusion is negative, and he will hide behind State when he finally disapproves the pipeline.  If he’s going to approve it, the State Department finding will repeat its previous green light, which caused the environmental community to scream like six-year olds for a do-over.

Memo to Congressional Republicans: Every piece of legislation voted on should include an amendment approving Keystone.  Make House and Senate Democrats cast votes against it.

UPDATE: It appears to be a thumbs-up from the State Department:  From the New York Times an hour ago:

The State Department released a report on Friday that could pave the way toward President Obama’s approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The long-awaited environmental impact statement on the project concludes that approval or denial of the pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, is unlikely to prompt oil companies to change the rate of their extraction of carbon-heavy tar sands oil, a State Department official said. Either way, the tar sands oil, which produces significantly more planet-warming carbon pollution than standard methods of drilling, is coming out of the ground, the report says.

In other news, Michael Mann, James Hansen, Al Gore, and Tom Steyer have been placed on suicide watch.

JOHN adds: Someone should tell them not to slit their wrists just yet. Thomas Pyle, President of the Institute for Energy Research, released this statement:

The State Department’s release of the Keystone XL report should give proponents no hope that President Obama will someday approve this much-needed, job-creating pipeline. He will continue to give excuse after excuse, but President Obama will never side against the anti-oil ideologues both in and outside of his White House, despite the tremendous benefits for this nation and the overwhelming public support from the American people. As long as Barack Obama resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I have a better chance of getting drafted by the the New York Yankees than we have of breaking ground on the Keystone XL.

That seems counterintuitive to me. I would have thought that if Obama didn’t want to approve the pipeline, he would have told the State Department to issue a more negative report. We will soon know, I guess, who is right.


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