The Obama administration has been considering whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline for six years, a delay tactic that has Congress — the current, pre-GOP-wave, lame duck Congress — very close to going over his head.

The pipeline would transport oil and gas from Canada’s tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico. A State Department review is ongoing.

Keystone is generally popular in the United States, where it has been sold to the public as a job creator. President Obama rejects that premise, and repeated his push-back at a news conference in Burma on Friday.

Environmentalists see Keystone as a line in the sand, so to speak. Its approval essentially doubles down on fossil fuels at a time when we are either near, at or well beyond the point of no return for climate change.

The House on Friday passed its ninth attempt to remove the White House from the decision-making process. According to Reuters, supporters in the Senate are just one vote shy of passing their own measure. Once the new Congress is sworn in, we can expect such measures to pass easily.

The question then becomes, does President Obama veto, as he has threatened to in the past? A skeptic might look at the president’s long history of buckling under pressure and expect more of the same. But Obama is in the legacy-making phase of his presidency, and climate change is emerging as an important issue for him. The U.S. and China just announced a surprise climate deal, and the White House is promising billions to assist poor countries with alternative fuel sources. The president is already unpopular, and a veto would be something future generations might look back on as a significant roadblock on the superhighway to oblivion.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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