President Obama made a big speech on climate change on Tuesday afternoon at Georgetown University. He's going to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to draft rules on carbon emissions from power plants, a new round of fuel efficiency requirements for vehicles and a whole bunch of other stuff, but everyone knew he was going to talk about that.
He was slated to role out his climate change plans, but he wasn't going to talk about the Keystone XL pipeline project. That's what everyone and their brother was reporting in previews of the speech. And then he went and actually talked about it.
The Keystone pipeline project -- a pipeline that will tote viscous bitumen, a sticky black crude oil, more than 1,700 miles from the Alberta Tar Sands to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast -- will only be approved if it is in America's best interest, the president said.
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"Our national interest will be served only if this project doesn't significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution," Obama said.
It's not a definitive statement on this controversial issue that has got everyone from the environmentalists to the Native Americans to the labor organizations up in arms about it, but the fact that the president made a statement at all is kind of surprising. Whether or not the president would approve the pipeline is an issue that has been dragging on for months, while the White House has failed to weigh in one way or another.
The Keystone got talked about on Tuesday, but overall the speech was focused on cutting back on carbon emissions and laying out a timeline to do so. Obama wants those rules on carbon emissions from the EPA ready by June 2015. He also talked about the benefits of natural gas, which is nice since America currently has a glut of the stuff in supply and called for Congress to cut tax breaks for oil companies and invest in renewable energy instead.
Couple of side notes: Former Vice President Al Gore said on his blog that Obama's speech on climate change was the best speech ever on the subject. However, the speech was kind of hard to see since it was closed to the public and all the cable news channels, aside from the Weather Channel, didn't show the speech at all, according to Politico. (Figures, doesn't it? The president finally talks about the Keystone, and cable skips the whole party.)