February 24, 2015

Obama vetoes #KeystoneXL bill — what's next?

President Obama's veto of the KeystoneXL bill from Congress isn't surprising. And on narrow grounds, of Congress trying to dictate foreign policy, it's the right move. That's doubly true with Speaker of the House John Boehner's invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to address Congress coming at about the same time the Keystone bill passed.

But, barring a more in-depth veto statement, it's possibly not the best big-picture move.

I suggested a couple of weeks ago that Obama should make such a statement, pledging to pass a similar bill if it were tied to a carbon tariff and carbon tax.

Today's announcement story explains why:
Last year, an 11-volume environmental impact review by the State Department concluded that oil extracted from the Canadian oil sands produced about 17 percent more carbon pollution than conventionally extracted oil.
There's the justification for a carbon tariff, which would require a domestic carbon tax.

The AP notes that Obama's veto was without fanfare. Well, per my angle, it should have had some fanfare indeed.

That said, as I also noted in that previous blog post, the State Department has said that Alberta tar sands oil will be sold — and delivered — somewhere, somehow, with or without the current pipeline. Work is underway to build an all-Canada pipeline to Quebec; work is struggling to send another pipeline west to British Columbia. And tar sands oil is already coming into the U.S. by rail, claims of some environmentalists to the contrary notwithstanding, as well as by more circuitous pipeline routes.

Beyond that, environmentalists with brains know not to pin too much hope on Obama.

His "all of the above" hydrocarbons strategy has bent, folded, spindled and mutilated the Endangered Species Act, as with the dunes sagebrush lizard.

And, at the same time his administration expanded protection in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, it announced plenty of drilling leases in the Arctic Ocean, as Greenpeace notes.

And, note the "no fanfare" in the AP story link.

In other words, President Obama can often be an "on the one hand" environmentalist.

And, as I noted in my link from my previous blog post, he's also not a "big picture" president. Of course, that's neoliberal incrementalism in general.

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