President Obama gave a major address on climate change on Tuesday, outlining some important steps to reduce our production of greenhouse gases that make the planet warmer. But far too many people are being terribly naive about one particular passage:
While Obama did not explicitly endorse or reject the Keystone XL pipeline, a major issue for climate activists, he did state in the speech that the pipeline should only be approved if it “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” “The pipeline’s effect on climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project will go forward,” he said.
The draft environmental impact analysis the State Department released in March found that it wouldn’t dramatically increase emissions, prompting environmentalists to worry about what that means for the administration’s decision. The EPA, however, has said that State’s evaluation of the greenhouse gas impact of the pipeline isn’t good enough. A senior administration official told reporters on Monday night that the State Department is still awaiting a final environmental analysis. “This proposal is not yet ready for a decision,” the official reiterated.
That phrase “significantly exacerbate” is very important. It gives him all the wiggle room he needs to approve it while claiming that it will only marginally increase carbon in the atmosphere by some statistical measure. It also leaves the obvious out of saying that the Alberta tar sands are going to be developed one way or the other even if the pipeline isn’t built, so it isn’t the pipeline that is causing the increased emissions.
I repeat what I have said for the last three years: there is not a chance in hell that he’s going to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. The best that can be hoped for is that he approves it with some additional safeguards for environmental safety.