Why Obama’s Keystone Statement Is a Mostly Meaningless Dodge

During President Obama’s climate changes speech today he created what seemed to be a new standard for whether or not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Obama said about the pipeline:

Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served, only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.

While the line sounds nice it is more a dodge than anything definitive. After all the word “significantly” is open to a wide interruption and creates plenty of wiggle room.

It is easy to find someone to produce an analysis to fit this criteria. After all that is what the recent State Department analysis claims. Obama could easily use it to argue he has proof it won’t “significantly exacerbate” the problem. It is possible  that in Obama’s mind the Keystone XL has already meant this new standard, which is why he choose to use this exact phrase.

Obama has had plenty of good opportunities to block the pipeline but has chosen to keep the process moving.  In fact, the Obama administration has been publicly and privately lowering environmentalists expectations about the issue.

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