With President Obama issuing a veto on the Keystone Pipeline XL where does it go from here?
I doubt Congress will be able to override Obama’s veto. When the Senate approved the pipeline, it was by a vote of 62-36. That’s five votes short required to override a presidential veto.
The State Department has actually not made a formal recommendation on the project and I don’t think they are in any hurry to do so. Even if they did recommend the project, I doubt Obama would reverse his position.
Then again a State Department recommendation might not matter because there’s also Canada’s election this October to consider. At the moment Justin Trudeau’s Liberals narrowly lead Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in the polls (34% to 33%). If the Conservatives lose power, Keystone could be in jeopardy. Now it’s true that Trudeau supports the project and indeed spoke in favor of it during a speech to a conference organized by the leftist Center for American Progress in October 2013. The Liberals need votes in Western Canada and when voters in Alberta hear Trudeau’s name they think of his father, Pierre Trudeau and the National Energy Program which, among other things, set a floor price on oil. The younger Trudeau wants a clean slate with Western Canada.
However, if the Liberals win a minority government and need the support of the NDP, Green Party and/or Bloc Quebecois (all of whom oppose Keystone) they would likely have to jettison their support for Keystone as a condition to form a government.
Even if the Liberals win a majority government, Keystone could become expendable too. The Liberals have had a long history on flip-flopping whether its Mackenzie King on conscription, Trudeau on wage and price controls, Jean Chretien on the GST and free trade. For his part, Trudeau has flip-flopped on Canada’s defunct gun registry and allowing Liberal MPs to vote their conscience on abortion. I wouldn’t put it past Trudeau to flip flop on Keystone.
Of course, even if the Tories are re-elected we still have Obama to deal with until January 2017 and if Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren succeed him then Keystone is dead in the water.
The only scenario in which I see the Keystone Pipeline XL seeing the light of day is if both Harper is re-elected in October and a Republican is elected to the White House next year.
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