Obama will re­ject pipe­line: Ho­even

‘He’ll wait un­til Congress is out of ses­sion for Au­gust. And then he’ll turn the project down …’

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - BY ALEXAN­DER PANETTA

A U.S. law­maker boldly pre­dicted Tues­day that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama is about to re­ject the Key­stone XL pipe­line, af­ter years of de­lay and de­bate.

The sur­prise state­ment came on floor of the U.S. Se­nate, from an un­ex­pected source.

Sen. John Ho­even, a Re­pub­li­can critic of the pres­i­dent and a staunch de­fender of the Canadato-Texas pipe­line project, is un­likely to be privy to White House plan­ning.

But ru­mours of an im­mi­nent re­jec­tion have swirled around Wash­ing­ton in re­cent days and Ho­even made them very pub­lic. In a cham­ber speech, he claimed to know what Obama will de­cide, when he’ll de­cide it and what logic he’ll use in mak­ing his long-awaited an­nounce­ment.

The reper­cus­sions of a de­ci­sion could rip­ple be­yond the oil in­dus­try and en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment and make them­selves felt on the cam­paign trail in up­com­ing elec­tions in both Canada and the U.S.

The North Dakota sen­a­tor said the pres­i­dent will make the an­nounce­ment af­ter Congress ad­journs in two weeks for its sum­mer re­cess, when Wash­ing­ton is quiet.

“Sources tell me that af­ter al­most seven years, Pres­i­dent Obama is go­ing to turn down the Key­stone XL pipe­line project,” Ho­even said.

“He’ll wait un­til Congress is out of ses­sion for Au­gust. And then he’ll turn the project down while Congress is not in ses­sion, to have less push­back, less crit­i­cism of his de­ci­sion if you will, make it un­der the radar.

“That’s un­der­stand­able, be­cause he’s mak­ing a po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion rather than a de­ci­sion based on the mer­its.”

He said Obama will base his de­ci­sion on en­vi­ron­men­tal grounds – and he blasted the pres­i­dent for that, say­ing his own State De­part­ment con­cluded the pipe­line wouldn’t in­crease pol­lu­tion.

If the re­jec­tion comes, Ho­even pre­viewed a line of at­tack Repub­li­cans will use: A com­par­i­son with Iran. Ho­even noted the irony of deny­ing a per­mit to a Cana­dian oil project, right af­ter the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion agreed to a nu­clear deal that al­lowed an in­crease in Ira­nian oil ex­ports.

“The pres­i­dent is mak­ing it harder to pro­duce en­ergy at home, here in our coun­try and get en­ergy from our clos­est friend and ally, Canada, (but) he wants to make it eas­ier to pro­duce oil in Iran. Think about that.”

Key­stone XL would carry about one-quar­ter of the oil Canada ex­ports to the U.S. each day and ease po­ten­tial bot­tle­necks on rail lines, but its U.S. op­po­nents ar­gue that it would help de­velop one of the world’s dirt­i­est sources of oil.

The is­sue has be­come a fault line in the U.S. de­bate over cli­mate change and en­ergy pol­i­tics. Repub­li­cans staunchly sup­port the project.

Democrats are di­vided and the is­sue has proven es­pe­cially un­com­fort­able for pres­i­den­tial con­tender Hillary Clin­ton, who sidestepped a ques­tion about it for the sec­ond straight day Tues­day.

Her ri­val Jeb Bush crit­i­cized her, in a pos­si­ble fore­shad­ow­ing of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign: “The pres­i­dent has to make lots of tough calls,” Bush tweeted af­ter the lat­est Clin­ton non-an­swer.

“Sup­port­ing Key­stone XL and North Amer­i­can en­ergy se­cu­rity is an easy one.”

AP PHOTO

Sen. John Ho­even, R-N.D., spon­sor of the Key­stone XL pipe­line bill, speaks about Key­stone XL, Jan. 29 on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton. Ho­even says he’s hear­ing that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama is about to re­ject the Key­stone XL pipe­line, af­ter years of de­lay and de­bate.

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