“No” means “no”… unless you’re John Boehner.
Almost two weeks ago, President Obama rejected a proposal to expand the Keystone XL oil pipeline from the lucrative oil sands region in Alberta, Canada, across some 1,660 miles America’s heartland, and finally onto refineries in Texas.
But Obama and the U.S. Department of State nixed the deal, citing inadequate time to complete a safety and viability review, following an arbitrary deadline that Boehner and the Republicans had set.
But far from being a dead deal, House Speaker Boehner is going back to the well for a refresher…
Boehner Not Backing Down
Having put the kibosh on Keystone, Obama has come under fierce criticism from a host of pipeline proponents, including oil groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, politicians, the Canadian government, op-ed media articles and others.
And their ire centers on one key issue: jobs.
While the number of jobs that Keystone will create varies wildly (from 6,000 to 20,000, depending on who you believe), Obama has been accused of being anti-jobs, anti-business, anti-growth and anti-energy.
And Boehner isn’t standing for it.
On Sunday, Boehner told ABC’s “This Week”:
“If (Keystone) is not enacted before we take up the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, it will be part of it.”
In other words, Republicans will tag the Keystone proposal onto other legislation – namely, a bill that proposes highway and infrastructure improvements, which is up for debate in the House of Representatives in the next few weeks.
Why? By marrying it to other proposals that have greater bipartisan backing, it’s an attempt to force Obama’s hand into approving the $7 billion Keystone project, too.
But the Senate isn’t hanging around. This morning, 44 Senators (43 of them Republicans) put their names on a new proposal. If approved, pipeline work could begin immediately, except on the contentious route through Nebraska.
That specific part of the bill has caused fierce debate and was one of the key reasons for the rejection, as the current path crosses a hugely important aquifer. The Nebraska government is currently considering a new route and, according to Reuters, the new proposal “incorporates an environmental review done by the U.S. State Department, and allows Nebraska time to find a new route.”
Just nine months before the presidential election, this issue is becoming an increasingly hot potato. As it stands, while Keystone isn’t completely dead, by the time pipeline owner, TransOcean, applies for a future presidential permit (as it says it will), the review process would linger well beyond the election.