Back in June, President Obama made a big environment speech at Georgetown. He tackled the Keystone XL Pipeline in said speech, proclaiming that he will only approve the pipeline if pipeline supporters can prove it won't accelerate climate change.
Well, some might have seen that speech as the president using that moment to set things up so he actually could approve the pipeline project that will tote stick black bitumen from the Canadian tar sands to refineries on the Gulf coast (the decision is guaranteed to either piss off the environmentalists against it or the union people who want it to happen.) However, billionaire Tom Steyer took the statement as a line in the sand guaranteeing that Obama has no choice but to shutdown all hopes of Keystone approval.
Steyer turned up in Georgetown this week holding a press conference to remind people what Obama said a few months back and how that means the Keystone -- stranded in regulatory red-tape purgatory, despite all kinds of encouragement from the Canadians -- must be shot down.
Steyer is a hedge fund executive and environmental activist from San Francisco. He's also one of the president's biggest donors, as the L.A. Times pointed out. Granted, the president doesn't have to actually get himself elected again, but being at odds with one of your big check writers still isn't generally considered good politics.
The Keystone decision was supposed to be decided by the end of the year, but the government shutdown slowed things over at the State Department so it's been delayed to sometime next year. It'll be interesting to see how it all plays out.
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Either way, the oil industry has moved on, turning to shale plays in Texas and across the country to fill the Keystone-shaped hole in their production while environmentalists and landowners, who still would rather the Keystone just not be a thing that exists, including the rich ones like Steyer, and keep hoping that they'll get their wish.